Tue, 07 Dec 2021

SEOUL, Oct. 26 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's real gross domestic product (GDP), adjusted for inflation, grew slower than expected in the third quarter as the COVID-19 resurgence weighed down on consumer spending, central bank data showed Tuesday.

The real GDP added 0.3 percent in the July-September quarter compared to the previous quarter, according to the Bank of Korea (BOK). It was lower than market expectations set between 0.4 percent and 0.6 percent.

The country's GDP declined in the first and second quarters of last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic shock, but it rebounded 2.2 percent in the third quarter and 1.1 percent in the fourth quarter each.

The real GDP continued to expand 1.7 percent in the first quarter of this year and 0.8 percent in the second quarter respectively, but the growth rate slowed down to 0.3 percent in the third quarter amid the COVID-19 resurgence.

In the latest tally, the country reported 1,266 more cases of COVID-19 for the past 24 hours, lifting the total number of infections to 354,355. The daily caseload hovered above 1,000 for 112 days since July 7.

The government maintained its toughest social-distancing rules in the Seoul metropolitan area to contain the virus spread, roiling the consumer spending and the face-to-face services sector.

Private consumption slumped 0.3 percent in the third quarter from the previous quarter, marking the first reduction in three quarters.

Facility investment shrank 2.3 percent on weak demand for transport equipment, and investment in the construction sector declined 3.0 percent in the third quarter.

Minister of Economy and Finance Hong Nam-ki said the recovery in domestic demand was restricted by the tighter social-distancing rules, summer heatwave and higher price for reinforcing bar, but he noted that the export propped up the economic recovery despite the difficult situations.

The country's export expanded 1.5 percent in the July-September quarter on a quarterly basis. The shipment surged 36.1 percent for the first 20 days of October compared to the same period of last year.

Hong said it was positive for the export to log a growth rate of over 30 percent in October, noting that expectations ran high for the fast recovery in domestic demand thanks to the gradual return to normalcy and the fiscal spending.

The government planned to let people return to normal life from the pandemic in a gradual manner from November as the country's full vaccination rate topped 70 percent of the population, a key precondition set by the government to ease antivirus measures.

The government spending grew 1.1 percent in the third quarter from three months earlier, but imports retreated 0.6 percent.

Meanwhile, output in the manufacturing industry gained 0.2 percent in the third quarter, after slumping 1.3 percent in the previous quarter.

Production in the agriculture, forestry and fishery sector advanced 8.8 percent in the third quarter, but the reading for the construction industry declined 1.7 percent.

Output in the wholesale and retail and the eatery and lodging sector reduced 0.8 percent during the quarter, and the figure for the transport sector went down 2.2 percent.

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