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Country Report South Korea September 2017

Country Report South Korea September 2017

  • September 2017
  • ID: 2557617
  • Format: PDF
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit

Summary

Table of Contents

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Outlook for 2017-21



  • The Economist Intelligence Unit expects the president, Moon Jae-in, to serve out his full, constitutionally mandated single five-year term. His victory broke a decade of conservative rule.
  • The challenging dynamic in the National Assembly (parliament), where none of the leading camps has a three-fifths majority, means that policy-making will continue to face headwinds until the parliamentary elections in 2020.
  • Heightened tensions over North Korea's pursuit of its nuclear programme will strengthen the security relationship between South Korea and the US. However, Moon Jae-in will keep pushing for re-engagement with the North.
  • We forecast that real GDP growth will average a subdued 2.5% a year in 2017-21. This reflects marked slowdowns in two of South Korea's main export markets, the US and China, which will weigh on the domestic economy.
  • Consumer price inflation is expected to remain modest in 2017-21, at an average annual rate of 1.6%, amid continued low global oil prices. These will remain well below recent highs.
  • The current account will remain in surplus during the forecast period, but will decline from the equivalent of 5.7% of GDP in 2017 to 5.5% of GDP by 2021.


Review



  • On August 23rd South Korea and the US launched their annual "Ulchi Freedom Guardian" (UFG) military exercise amid heightened tension over North Korea's nuclear programme.
  • On August 30th Hyundai Motor, South Korea's biggest auto manufacturer and exporter, resumed production at its four factories in China after briefly halting operations on August 29th owing to a supply-chain disruption caused by unpaid bills.
  • On September 3rd North Korea's official state news agency, Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), announced that the country had successfully completed its sixth nuclear test.
  • The monetary policy board of the Bank of Korea (BOK, South Korea's central bank) left its main policy interest rate, the base rate, unchanged at 1.25% following a regular meeting on August 31st.
  • On September 1st Statistics Korea published inflation data for August, which showed a 2.6% year-on-year increase in the consumer price index, the biggest monthly rise since April 2012.
  • On September 1st the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy reported that the value of merchandise exports had increased by 17.4% year on year in August, while imports had risen by 14.2%.


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