#Hot Issues of the Week l 2021-05-02
The latest figures show South Korea's economy rebounded in the first quarter, recovering to levels seen before the outbreak of COVID-19. Further buoying optimism is Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki’s forecast that the economy could expand in the mid- to upper-three-percent range this year.
The country's real gross domestic product(GDP) grew one-point-six percent in the first quarter from the previous quarter returning to pre-pandemic levels.
This is according to tentative data released by the Bank of Korea(BOK) on Tuesday.
Earlier, the central bank had said that if growth posts more than one-point-three percent in the first quarter, the economy is thought to have recovered to the level seen in the fourth quarter of 2019, before the outbreak of the epidemic.
The growth was partly supported by a recovery in private consumption in the first quarter, which grew one-point-one percent on-quarter led by sales of home appliances and automobiles.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki forecast the economy could expand in the mid- to upper-three-percent range this year, surpassing the government's growth outlook of three-point-two percent.
Hong made the projection on social media Tuesday, assessing that the BOK’s estimated growth rate exceeds expectations at home and abroad.
Referring to how global agencies and investment banks had set South Korea's growth forecast in the upper zero-percent to one-percent range, Hong stressed that the recovery of key indicators is faster and steeper than market expectations.
However, the minister added that the road to recovery is strewn with pending issues such as aiding small businesses to overcome the COVID-19 crisis and creating more jobs for young people and women.