President Moon says economic recovery to pick up in second half

SEOUL, President Moon Jae-in said Thursday that the country's much-coveted economic recovery will gather pace in the second half of the year, with the growth in Asia's fourth-largest economy to reach the mid- to upper 2 percent range during the stated period.

"The government and the Bank of Korea are predicting that economic conditions will start getting better from the second half, and the country's potential growth rate will recover to the mid- and upper 2 percent range as well," Moon said in a special interview with public broadcaster KBS to commemorate the second anniversary of his taking office.

His remarks came after the Bank of Korea (BOK) said last week the economy contracted an estimated 0.3 percent in the first quarter of the year from three months earlier, due to a sharper-than-expected drop in investment and sluggish exports, marking the worst performance in a decade.

The finance ministry has projected the nation's economy to expand between 2.6 percent and 2.7 percent this year. Last month, the BOK trimmed its economic outlook for the South Korean economy to 2.5 percent from 2.6 percent, citing a worse-than-expected slump in exports and facility investment.

Last month, the government proposed a 6.7 trillion won (US$5.6 billion) extra budget to tackle an economic slowdown.

while expressing concerns over the first-quarter economic performance, President Moon said exports and facility investment are recovering.

But Moon said the government is gravely concerned over a slump in job creation.

"Job creation rose to some 250,000 in February and March, and the government expects the trend to continue for a while," Moon said, adding that job creation for the year would be around 200,000, up from the earlier target of 150,000.

"The extra budget (if approved by the National Assembly) would help achieve the target easily," he said.

Source: Yonhap news Agency

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