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THE ECONOMY

 

Looking Ahead to the 21st Century

 

In the last quarter century, Korea’s economic growth has been among the

fastest in the world. The country has overcome obstacles and challenges

to transform itself from a subsistence-level economy into one of the

world’s leading newly industrialized countries. Today, however, the

Korean economy faces the new challenges of internationalization and

globalization in an increasingly complex global economic environment.

 

Past Performance and Policies

 

Since Korea launched its First Five-Year Economic Development Plan in

1962, the country’s real GNP has expanded by an average of more than 8

percent per year. As a result, Korea’s GNP has grown from US$2.3 billion

in 1962 to US$328.7 billion in 1993; per capita GNP has increased from a

meager US$82 in 1962 to US$7,466 in 1993 at current price levels.

 

The industrial structure of the Korean economy has also been

completely transformed. The agricultural sector’s share of GNP declined

from 37.0 percent in 1962 to 7.1 percent in 1993. The manufacturing

sector’s share has increased from 14.4 percent to 27.1 percent in the

same period. The service sector accounted for only 24.1 percent of GNP

in 1962 but grew to 40.0 percent in 1993.

 

Korea’s merchandise trade volume increased from US$500 million in 1962

to US$166 billion in 1993. The nation continuously posted trade deficits

until 1985 when its foreign debt reached US$46.8 billion, the fourth

largest in the world. From 1986 to 1989, Korea recorded current account

surpluses and its debt declined.

 

Trands of Major Economic Indicators

 

Unit ‘62 ‘70 ‘80 ‘85 ‘90 ‘92 ‘93

 

GNP US$ bil. 2.3 8.1 60.5 91.1 251.8 305.7 328.7

 

Per Capita GNP US$ 8.2 242 2,194 2,242 5,883 7,007 7,466

 

GNP Growth Rate % 2.2 7.6 7.0 7.0 9.6 5.0 5.6

 

Domestic Savings % 3.3 17.9 29.1 29.8 35.9 34.9 34.9

 

Ratio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trade Volume US$ bil. 0.5 2.8 39.8 61.4 134.9 158.4 166.0

 

Producer Price % 9.4 9.2 38.9 0.9 4.2 2.2 1.5

 

Consumer Price % 8.3 15.9 28.8 2.4 8.6 6.2 4.8

 

 

 

Inflation in Korea was one of the major economic problems in the 70s

and early 80s, during which consumer prices rose at annual rates of

10-20percent. Since 1982, Korea has managed to keepinflation down to a

single digit. The ratio of domesticsavings to GNP grew from 3.3 percent

in 1962 to 34.9 percent in 1993.

 

Recent Challenges

 

Beginning in 1989, the koreaneconomy began experiencing slower growth,

high inflation and a deterioration in the balance of payments. The

GNPgrowth rate fell to 6.7 percent in 1989 from the 12 percent level of

previous years. A slump in the growth of the manufacturing sector, from

18.8 percent in 1987 and 13.4 percent in 1988 to 13.7 percent in 1989,

contributed largely to this decline in GNP growth rate. The export

growth rate on a customs clearance basis, which was 36.2 percent in 1987

and 28.4 percent in 1988, fell to just 2.8 percent in 1989. Reflecting

this fall in the export growth rate, the current account surplus lowered

to around US$5.1 billion, a significant drop from the 1988 surplus of

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