S.Korea Q4 GDP beats expectations, sets scene for strong 2021

26 Janvier, 2021, 21:24 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • GDP Growth Trend

South Korea's booming technology exports and optimism over its plans to roll out the coronavirus vaccine fueled growth expectations for 2021 after the country beat forecasts in the fourth quarter. That figure was down from 2.1% in the third quarter, but ahead of most economists' expectations.

South Korea is one of Australia's top five export destinations with products dominated by iron ore, copper, coal and meat and some grains.

South Korea has shown signs of recovery from the virus downturn and the central bank in November forecast the economy to grow 3% in 2021.

In the fourth quarter of past year, South Korea's economy - the world's 12th-largest - grew 1.1 percent from the previous quarter, data showed, marking a second consecutive quarter of growth amid the pandemic. It has also raised concerns about rising inequalities, as young, temporary and casual workers are hit hard by the recession and soaring house prices.

The preliminary Bank of Korea data on Tuesday said the 1% contraction over 2020 as a whole was the weakest annual performance since 1998 when the Asian financial crisis was at its peak. The country's exposure to China, which accounts for about a quarter of South Korea's exports, has also contributed to the return to growth.

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Beyond surging demand for high-tech exports, Seoul's initial coronavirus response, which saw the rapid deployment of mass testing and high-tech contact tracing, helped soften the blow from manufacturing supply chain disruption and falling domestic consumption.

GDP slowed to a 1.1% quarter on quarter rate in the three months to December, down sharply from the 2.1% rate reported for the September quarter.

"We continue to expect the Korean economy to grow by around 5% in 2021. This would push GDP to less than 1.5 per cent below its pre-crisis path by the end of the year, among the smallest gaps in the region", Mr Holmes said. The immunization campaign will start next month; health authorities plan to achieve herd immunity in November. People over 65 will receive jabs in the second trimester.

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