South Korean economy shrinks for first time since early 2020

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jan 26 2023 11:51 AM

People wearing face masks walk on the street in Seoul, South Korea, Nov. 19 , 2021. Jeon Heon-Kyun, EPA-EFE/File 
People wearing face masks walk on the street in Seoul, South Korea, Nov. 19 , 2021. Jeon Heon-Kyun, EPA-EFE/File 

SEOUL — South Korea's economy shrank in October-December for the first time since the second quarter of 2020, as exports tumbled while consumer spending dipped in reaction to rising interest rates, the country's central bank said Thursday.

Gross domestic product in the final period of last year contracted 0.4 percent from the previous quarter, the Bank of Korea said. 

The reading comes after the BoK hiked borrowing costs for the tenth time in 18 months in early January, as part of its drive to tame inflation.

The figures could provide monetary policymakers room to slow their pace of hikes, as central banks around the world look to tone down their tightening moves as the effects of last year's moves kick in.

Still, consumer inflation, which hit five percent in December, continues to be a major concern for the BoK.

"Private consumption fell 0.4 percent due to a decrease in consumption of goods and services, (including) home appliances, clothing, accommodation, food and entertainment," the central bank said in a statement.

"Exports decreased by 5.8 percent mainly in semiconductors and chemicals," it added.

Imports fell 4.6 percent in the quarter owing to decreased imports of basic metals and crude oil, according to the bank.

Still the economy grew 1.4 percent on-year in the quarter and 2.6 percent for the whole of 2022.

For 2023, the central bank has estimated that the country's economy will grow around 1.7 percent, and inflation will be around 3.6 percent.

© Agence France-Presse