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Think tanks forecast growth below 3% in 2013

The nation’s leading private and public think tanks projected that Korea’s GDP growth would fall below 3 percent this year, hovering between 2.5 and 2.9 percent, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said in a press release on Monday.

The economic growth projection was presented by representatives from 11 private and public think tanks at a lunch meeting with Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Yoon Sang-jick.

The GDP projection is similar to that issued by the Bank of Korea last week. The central bank cut the nation’s 2013 GDP growth forecast to 2.6 percent from the 2.8 percent estimated three months earlier.

“Think tanks said the economy could show a gradual pick-up from the latter part of this year, but the downturn is expected to continue for the time being,” the ministry said.

The won against U.S. dollar is expected to strengthen to 1,070 or 1,080 won this year from a year ago thanks to a current account surplus and the government’s economic stimulus policy. But participants in the meeting asked the government to closely monitor the won’s performance against the Japanese yen. They were concerned about the protracted weak yen.

Think tanks projected stabilization of oil prices with support from production increase by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in 2013., saying that the international oil prices are likely to be stabilized at around $105 per barrel, lower than $109 per barrel last year.

Minister Yoon asked think tanks to do more research on the the latest industrial trends, which help the government and companies develop strategies for future growth, while explaining of the government’s economic policy direction.

Eleven think tanks participating in the meeting consisted of six private institutes, including the Samsung Economic Research Institute, LG Economic Research Institute, and five state-run research firms, including the Korea Development Institute, and Korea Institute for International Economics and Trade.

By Seo Jee-yeon (