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(LEAD) S. Korea's economy grows 4 pct in 2021, highest in 11 years

Economy 09:03 January 25, 2022

(ATTN: RECASTS first 4 paras; ADDS info throughout, photo)

SEOUL, Jan. 25 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's economy posted the highest growth rate in 11 years as consumption and exports bounced back from the pandemic-caused slump, central bank data showed Tuesday.

The gross domestic product is estimated to have grown 4 percent in 2021, marking a turnaround from a year earlier when the economy contracted 0.9 percent, the worst performance since 1998, according to the data from the Bank of Korea (BOK).

The 2021 growth rate marked the highest tally since 2010, when the economy expanded 6.8 percent. It also met the central bank's annual growth outlook.

In November, the BOK predicted the country's economy will grow 4 percent for 2021 and 3 percent for this year. The central bank will announce its updated growth outlook next month.

For the fourth quarter, the economy is estimated to have grown 1.1 percent, accelerating from the previous quarter's 0.3 percent gain, the data showed.

South Korea has sought to bolster the economy, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and toughened social distancing curbs, by expanding government spending, including two extra budgets and providing relief grants to people.

Private consumption expanded 3.6 percent last year, turning around from the previous year's 5 percent contraction.

Facility investment gained 8.3 percent, compared with a 7.1 percent advance tallied a year earlier. Investment in construction, however, shrank 1.5 percent, worse than a 0.4 percent decline a year earlier.

Government spending rose 5.5 percent last year, higher than the previous year's 5 percent gain.

Exports jumped 9.7 percent, bouncing back from a 1.8 percent contraction in 2020, driven by brisk overseas sales of semiconductors and oil-related products.

Imports also rose 8.4 percent, compared with a 3.3 percent decline registered a year earlier as purchases of crude oil increased, the data showed.

Container ships are loaded with export cargo at Busan New Port in Busan, 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on Jan. 1, 2022. South Korea's exports increased 25.8 percent year-on-year in 2021 to an all-time high of US$644.54 billion, the industry ministry said. (Yonhap)

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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