Republic of Korea : GDP growth, Merchandise export growth, Monthly inflation

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The persistent softness of demand from advanced economies, combined with the palpable slowdown of the PRC economy, made 2012 especially difficult for exporters. Year on year, merchandise exports grew by a mere 0.1% in 2012, a sharp decline from the 19.6% of 2011. Export growth was muted throughout the year (Figure 3.11.3). The one bright spot in an otherwise grim export environment was the robust market in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Figure 3.11.4). Mirroring the fragility of domestic demand, imports of goods plummeted by 1.1% in 2012 from the 23.4% growth in 2011, leaving a yawning trade surplus. At the same time a sizeable surplus in construction services combined with smaller deficits in tourism and business services to reverse the chronic services trade deficit to a record surplus. These developments added up to a record current account surplus of $43.1 billion, or 3.8% of GDP, even though the won strengthened somewhat, rising from 1,146 to the dollar in January to 1,077 in December. Inflation as measured by the consumer price index averaged 2.2%, down sharply from the 4.0% of 2011 but remaining within the central bank’s inflation target band of 3.0% ±1 percentage point. Inflation decelerated during the course of the year as aggregate demand progressively softened (Figure 3.11.5). The lack of inflationary pressures and concerns about growth prodded the central bank to gradually loosen monetary policy during 2012, cutting its benchmark policy rate from 3.25% to 3.00% in July and further to 2.75% in October. Source: Bank of Korea. Economics Statistics System. http:// ecos.bok.or.kr/EIndex_en.jsp (accessed 22 February 2013).CEIC Data Company (accessed 8 March 2013).
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