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Country Forecast South Korea September 2017 Updater

Country Forecast South Korea September 2017 Updater

  • September 2017
  • ID: 1698407
  • Format: PDF
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit

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  • Moon Jae-in of the liberal Minjoo Party of Korea won the presidential election in May 2017, following the impeachment of his predecessor, Park Geun-hye, in March. The Economist Intelligence Unit expects him to serve out his full term, which is constitutionally limited to five years.
  • With politics remaining heavily polarised, the next parliamentary election, in 2020, is unlikely to improve the legislative set-up, leaving no party in the National Assembly (parliament) with the majority required to pass laws unilaterally. Nevertheless, with a fairly able bureaucracy, policy imple-mentation will remain efficient.
  • We expect security ties between South Korea and the US to remain strong owing to the continued ramping-up of nuclear capabilities undertaken by North Korea. Meanwhile, it will remain difficult for South Korea to regard China as a reliable security partner, owing to the latter's reluctance to crack down on North Korea and opposition to South Korea's military counter-measures.
  • The Moon Jae-in administration will pursue an ambitious demand-driven economic agenda through increased government spending and redistributive policies. Despite strong momentum to curb the role in the economy of influential chaebol (family-run conglomerates), and renewed support for small and medium-sized enterprises, we expect the dominance of these enterprises to continue over the forecast period.
  • The Bank of Korea (BOK, South Korea's central bank) will maintain a loose monetary policy stance in 2017-20 in order to support economic growth. As growth momentum picks up in 2021, we expect the BOK to initiate progressive policy tightening at the end of the forecast period.
  • Real GDP will grow by an annual average of 2.5% in 2017-21. In the absence of a significant rebalancing away from exports and towards domestic demand, the economy will remain hostage to weakness in global trade. Increasing indebtedness among households, along with subdued wage growth in the dominant manufacturing sector, will act to constrain private consumption.
  • The merchandise trade surplus will trend lower over the forecast period compared with 2016, as goods exports suffer from a slowdown in the economies of China and the US in 2018 and 2020, respectively. South Korea will also face greater com-petition on certain key export items from peers in the region (including China).


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