Seoul to minimise economic impact from Pyongyang’s provocations

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Seoul, Feb 22 (IANS) South Korea’s top economic policymaker on Monday said the government will make its best efforts to minimise the possible negative economic impact from North Korea’s recent rocket launch and nuclear test.

The government will “do its utmost to minimise the impact of North Korea issues on the South Koran economy” while continuing to monitor geopolitical developments, Xinhua quoted Yoo Il-ho, deputy prime minister for economic affairs who doubles as finance minister, as saying.

Yoo’s comments came amid rising expectations that geopolitical risks from Pyongyang’s nuclear test and long-range rocket launch may weigh down further on the already struggling South Korean economy.

Pyongyang launched a long-range rocket, which outsiders see as a prohibited test of ballistic missile technology, on February 7 after what it claimed was the first H-bomb test on January 6, the fourth of its nuclear detonations.

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South Korea’s exports posted the biggest monthly decline in more than six years in January with an 18.5 percent reduction.

The exports, which account for about half of the export-driven economy, are estimated to have recorded a double-digit fall in February as well.

Yoo said free trade agreements (FTAs) with China, Vietnam and New Zealand, which came into force last year, would contribute to South Korea’s export growth.

He noted that China’s shift to a more consumption-driven economy will provide South Korean companies with opportunities to export more consumer goods and services to China, South Korea’s largest trading partner.

Asked whether the heightened geopolitical risks on the Korean Peninsula may affect trade between South Korea and China, Yoo said that those will have little impact on economic relations between the two neighbours.

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Yoo said that China, South Korea’s largest trading partner, is more important than any in restoring Seoul’s exports and added that an increase in exports to China will be very necessary for South Korea’s economy.

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