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Finance minister sees slower-than-expected economic growth, higher inflation this year

All News 18:43 April 12, 2022

SEOUL, April 12 (Yonhap) -- Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said Tuesday the South Korean economy is expected to grow at a slower pace than earlier expected and inflation will likely run higher amid heightened economic uncertainty caused by the Ukraine crisis.

In December, the finance ministry forecast Asia's fourth-largest economy to grow 3.1 percent and consumer prices to rise 2.2 percent. But it faces growing economic headwinds, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine has jacked up energy costs.

"It would be difficult (for the Korean economy) to meet the government's economic growth target this year," Hong told foreign correspondents in Seoul.

"The economic growth rate is expected to be lower than (the government's) forecast, while inflation is expected to exceed its earlier estimate," he added.

This photo, taken April 8, 2022, shows Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki presiding over a government meeting on economic security in Seoul. (Yonhap)

Experts said South Korea's economic growth is expected to remain in the 2-percent range this year, while its inflation may shoot up near to 4 percent.

South Korea's consumer prices grew more than 4 percent for the first time in more than 10 years in March amid surging energy prices.

The Bank of Korea (BOK) said inflation would be under more upward pressure coming forward, saying consumer prices may top the central bank's 3.1 percent estimate this year. The BOK's 2022 economic growth estimate stands at 3 percent.

Hong also said the government will take measures to stabilize the foreign exchange market, as the Korean currency has sharply fallen against the U.S. dollar.

The won's slide came as demand for safer assets increased amid the U.S. monetary tightening and global inflation risks.

"The government is closely monitoring the FX market and is ready to take measures to stabilize the market and will do so if needed," Hong said.

The South Korean currency closed at 1,236.20 won against the dollar Tuesday, down 3.1 won from the previous session's close. The won has fallen about 3.8 percent against the greenback so far this year.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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