The Korea Herald


Uneven pace of economic recovery among sectors continues in S. Korea: finance ministry

By Yonhap

Published : April 12, 2024 - 10:53

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The prices of gasoline and diesel fuel are displayed at a gas station on Sunday. (Yonhap) The prices of gasoline and diesel fuel are displayed at a gas station on Sunday. (Yonhap)

The South Korean economy has largely been on a recovery track on the back of robust growth of exports and manufacturing production, but domestic demand remains weak and uncertainties have grown over global prices of raw materials, the finance ministry said Friday.

"Our economy has seen an economic recovery centering on manufacturing output and exports while reporting a high level of employment," the Ministry of Economy and Finance said in the Green Book, its monthly economic assessment report.

"But the pace of recovery among sectors remains different as private consumption and indicators on the construction field remain sluggish, in particular," the report read.

Exports, a key economic growth engine, logged the sixth consecutive monthly gain in March after a yearlong downturn on the back of rising global demand for semiconductors. Chip exports reached a record high since June 2022, according to government data.

Industrial output rose 1.3 percent on-month in February, the fourth consecutive month of increase, thanks to growing semiconductor production.

Compared with a year earlier, industrial output climbed 2 percent, with that of semiconductors surging 65.3 percent.

But retail sales, a gauge of private spending, fell 3.1 percent on-month in February, the first drop since December last year, due mainly to dwindling sales of food, cosmetics and other non-durable goods.

On an on-year basis, retail sales inched up 0.9 percent.

Facility investment increased 10.3 percent in February from the previous month, but construction investment shed 1.9 percent on-month, according to the data from Statistics Korea.

"Uncertainties in the global economy continue stemming from geopolitical risks surrounding the Russia-Ukraine war and the Middle East crisis and the subsequent possibility of volatile raw materials prices," the ministry said.

"The government will make all-out efforts to stabilize prices at an early date and put policy priority on achieving a well-balanced recovery by supporting the livelihoods of the people and boosting domestic demand. We will also focus on how to boost growth momentum through innovation, fairness and social mobility," it added.

Consumer prices, a key gauge of inflation, gained 3.1 percent on-year in March, rising over 3 percent for the second consecutive month on high prices of fruits, fresh food items and energy.

Dubai crude, South Korea's benchmark, rose to $84.18 per barrel on average in March, compared with $77.33 in December, $78.85 in January and $80.88 in February, according to government data.

The government has said inflationary pressure is forecast to ease at a slower pace than earlier expected, though the country is projected to reach the target rate of 2 percent by around the end of this year. (Yonhap)