S. Korea 2010 growth is fastest for eight years

Thursday, 31 March 2011 00:12 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

SEOUL, (AFP) - South Korea’s economy grew 6.2 percent in 2010, its fastest expansion for eight years, the central bank said Wednesday after revising up its earlier estimate of 6.1 percent.

The bank also raised its growth figures for 2009 to 0.3 percent from its earlier projection of 0.2 percent.

“The growth of the Korean economy accelerated last year, helped by a sharp upturn in facilities investment, expanded exports and a pickup of growth in private consumption,” the Bank of Korea said in a statement.

The contribution of domestic demand to overall growth rose sharply in 2010, “pointing to self-sustaining recovery in the private sector”, said Kim Young-Bae, director general of its economic statistics division.

In the fourth quarter last year the economy expanded 0.5 percent from three months earlier, in line with the earlier estimate.

Compared with a year earlier, it grew 4.7 percent in the final quarter -- less than a previous estimate of 4.8 percent.

Last year’s growth in Asia’s fourth largest economy was the largest since 7.2 percent in 2002.

The bank expects growth to slow in 2011 but stuck by its December forecast of 4.5 percent.

“The economy -- which grew quickly last year because of a low base of comparison in the previous year -- will slow this year,” Kim told a press conference.

“But the outlook we gave last December largely remains unchanged. Growth won’t get any worse than we thought.”Moody’s Analytics agreed expansion remains on track, fuelled by robust exports and buoyant household spending.

“Employment has been rising strongly, and the rising participation rate suggests that many who sat out the recession are re-entering the labour force,” said senior economist Matt Robinson in a commentary.

Robinson cautioned that Japan’s disaster could dampen its neighbour’s growth in the first two quarters, with South Korean experts crimped and shortages of    imported Japanese components.

But Korean electronics, autos and heavy industry manufacturers may win increased market share amid unmet global demand for Japanese products.