Seoul predicts economy will shrink, cuts interest rate
Published on: Friday, May 29, 2020
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An aerial view shows tour busses stored in a parking lot in Seoul.
SEOUL: South Korea’s economy is expected to suffer its first annual contraction since the 1990s as a result of the coronavirus, the central bank forecast Thursday as it cut interest rates to a record low.

The world’s 12th-largest economy will shrink 0.2 per cent, the Bank of Korea (BOK) predicted, a dramatic downgrade from the 2.1-per cent growth it had forecast in February.

The BOK cut its key interest rate by 25 basis points to 0.5 per cent, joining other central banks moving to try to stem the impact of the pandemic, which analysts say threatens to cause a global recession.

“The growth of the domestic economy has slowed significantly” due to the coronavirus, and is expected to be sluggish and unpredictable in future, the central bank said in a statement.

“The employment situation has deteriorated,” it added, with many in the service sector losing jobs, while “exports fell significantly”.

It is the second rate cut in three months, after a surprise 50-basis-point reduction to 0.75 per cent in March.

The South is highly trade-dependent and saw its worst economic performance in more than a decade in the first quarter as the epidemic struck.

Gross domestic product shrank 1.4 per cent year-on-year during the January to March period, its biggest decline since the fourth quarter of 2008 during the global financial crisis.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has forecast the world economy will contract three percent this year, saying it is expected to “experience its worst recession since the Great Depression” over the pandemic. 

The IMF has predicted the South Korean economy will shrink 1.2 per cent in 2020. 


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