Go to Contents Go to Navigation

(3rd LD) Economic recovery gathers steam as industrial output growth at 8-month high in Feb.

All News 10:46 March 31, 2021

(ATTN: REWRITES headline, lead; UPDATES with more details in paras 5, 12-13)
By Kim Soo-yeon

SEOUL, March 31 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's industrial output grew at the fastest pace in eight months in February to recover to pre-pandemic levels, data showed Wednesday, in the latest sign that the economy is on a recovery track supported by exports.

The industrial output increased 2.1 percent in February from the previous month, sharply turning around from a 0.6 percent on-month decline in January, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea.

From a year earlier, it rose 0.4 percent.

It marked the fastest on-month gain since June 2020, when industrial production grew 3.9 percent.

The index gauging industrial production came to 111.6 last month, returning to the pre-pandemic level as it was higher than the 111.5 in December 2019.

This file photo, taken March 2, 2021, shows ships carrying containers docking at a port in South Korea's southeastern port city of Busan. (Yonhap)

Production in the mining, manufacturing, gas and electricity industries grew 4.3 percent on-month in February, the fastest gain since June 2020, on the back of brisk chip output.

Service output gained 1.1 percent on-month, the first increase in three months, as the accommodation and food sectors improved amid eased virus curbs.

On Feb. 15, the country lowered its tougher social distancing measures by one notch to Level 2, the third highest in its five-tier scheme, in the greater Seoul area and to Level 1.5 in other regions.

The in-person service sector bore the brunt of the pandemic as people refrained from visiting shops on concerns about virus infection risks.

The finance ministry said industrial output sharply rose as exports remained strong and a slump in domestic demand eased amid relaxed virus curbs.

"The pace of an economic recovery quickened last month from the previous month," Eo Woon-sun, a senior Statistics Korea official, said at a press briefing.

Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said the government will mobilize all policy support to get the economy on a full-fledged growth path in the second quarter.

Despite the economic recovery, private spending still remained fragile amid a resurgence in COVID-19 cases.

Retail sales shed 0.8 percent from a month earlier, compared with a 1.6 percent gain in the previous month, due to a fall in demand for food and telecommunication goods. It marked the first on-month decline in three months.

Facility investment declined 2.5 percent last month, compared with a 6.5 percent gain the previous month.

This file photo, taken March 3, 2021, shows a sign announcing a temporary closure due to the pandemic that was put up at a shop in Seoul's shopping district of Myeongdong. (Yonhap)

Despite the extended virus fallout, the South Korean economy is on a recovery track on robust exports.

Asia's fourth-largest economy contracted 1 percent last year, the first retreat since the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis. But its contraction was far smaller than other major advanced economies.

The Bank of Korea (BOK) forecast the Korean economy to grow 3 percent this year on the back of solid exports.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) revised up its 2021 growth outlook for the Korean economy to 3.6 percent from its estimate in January of 3.1 percent.


Send Feedback
How can we improve?
Thanks for your feedback!