A view of a container port at Busan, South Korea taken on June 10, 2020. (Getty Images)
South Korea slipped into a recession in the second quarter in its worst economic decline in over two decades as exports plunged due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As social distancing curbs paralyzed factories in South Korea, the countryís economy shrank by a seasonally adjusted 3.3% in the June quarter from three months earlier when it contacted 1.3%, the Bank of Korea said on Thursday.
That is the sharpest contraction for Asiaís fourth-largest economy since the first quarter of 1998 and steeper than a 2.3% decline based on a Reuters poll.
The countryís gross domestic product had also a fall of 2.9% in year-on-year terms, the biggest drop since the fourth quarter of 1998 and worse than a 2.0% decline seen in the poll.
Accounting for nearly 40% of the economy, exports were the biggest drag on growth, decreasing by 16.6% on-quarter to mark the worst reading ever recorded since 1963.
South Koreaís POSCO, the worldís fifth-biggest steelmaker, said it had a drop of 84.3% in operating profit in the second quarter as global demand for steel declined.
Also on Thursday, the worldís No. 2 memory chip maker SK Hynix issued a warning, saying there is uncertainty in the second half, even as its second-quarter operating profit tripled.
"While consumer spending should gradually recover, the threat from the virus is unlikely to fade entirely and some social distancing will probably have to remain in place," Capital Economics Asia Economist Alex Holmes said.
"Meanwhile, global demand is only likely to recover slowly which will weigh on the export recovery."
Also, while construction investment went down 1.3% quarter-on-quarter, capital investment dropped 2.9%.
South Korea joins Japan, Thailand and Singapore in technical recession, which means two straight quarters of decline amid the pandemic that is badly affecting Asiaís trade-reliant economies.
However, analysts and policymakers are expecting a recovery that would be faster than those of its regional peers.
"Itís possible for us to see China-style rebound in the third quarter as the pandemic slows and activity in overseas production, schools and hospitals resume," said South Korean finance minister Hong Nam-ki said after the data was released.
He also said the unprecedented shutdown of the global economy brought to a halt Korean companiesí overseas production lines in Vietnam and India, further impacting exports.
Meanwhile, President Moon Jae-in seeks to increase property and sales taxes to tame skyrocketing home prices, especially in Seoul.
Despite the Korean government having rolled out around 277 trillion won ($231 billion) worth of stimulus to stem the economic fallout from the pandemic, policymakers have next to no control over the global demand for the countryís exports that include memory chips, cars and petrochemical products among other things.
"The worst seems to be over. The base effect and fiscal injection from supplementary budget will improve investment," said Park Sang-hyun, an analyst at HI Investment & Securities.
For the whole year of 2020, analysts predict that the economy might decline by a median 0.4%, which would be the first full-year contraction since 1998. However, the International Monetary Fund projects an even bigger 2.1% contraction.
SOURCE: PRESS TV