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Country Report South Korea October 2017

Country Report South Korea October 2017

  • October 2017
  • ID: 325868
  • Format: PDF
  • By The Economist Intelligence Unit

Summary

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Outlook for 2018-22



  • 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 policymaking 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 2.6% a year in 2018-22. 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 2018-22, at an annual average of 1.6%, amid continuing low global oil prices. These will remain well below recent highs.
  • The current account will remain in surplus during the forecast period, at the equivalent of 5.7% of GDP on average. The trade surplus will continue to offset the deficits on the services and secondary income accounts.


Review



  • On September 21st Moon Jae-in met the US president, Donald Trump, and Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York.
  • The central government budget proposal for 2018 was submitted to the National Assembly in September for approval by the statutory deadline of December 2nd. It includes an expenditure rise of 7.1% from the 2017 budget, which is a doubling of the annual rate of spending growth in 2013-17.
  • On September 14th the Presidential Committee on Job Creation, a cabinet committee chaired by Moon Jae-in, said that the government's employment growth policy would improve job market conditions owing to support from the W11trn (US$9.6bn) stimulus package passed in July.
  • On September 28th Statistics Korea released data showing a drop in consumer price inflation in September, to 2.1% year on year, from 2.6% in August.
  • On October 1st the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy released data showing that merchandise exports surged by 35% year on year in September.


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