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S. Korea asks Moody’s to reflect its policy efforts in credit evaluation

South Korea’s chief economic policymaker asked Moody’s officials to take into account Seoul’s efforts to boost the economy and eased geopolitical risks in evaluating the country’s sovereign rating, the finance ministry said Wednesday.

Hong Nam-ki, the minister of economy and finance, made the appeal in a meeting with a Moody’s delegation led by Michael Taylor, chief credit officer for the Asia-Pacific, at a government building in Seoul.

Hong Nam-ki (Yonhap)
Hong Nam-ki (Yonhap)

Moody’s upgraded the rating for South Korea to “Aa2” in 2015, the third-highest level on the company’s table.

The meeting came hours after South Korea proposed a 6.7 trillion-won (US$5.8 billion) extra budget to cope with a slowdown in Asia’s fourth-largest economy and rising concerns over the fine dust air pollution that often blankets the country.

Hong explained the extra budget proposal to Moody’s officials, stressing that South Korea is making all efforts to achieve economic growth in the range of 2.6 percent to 2.7 percent in 2019.

The annual meeting also came as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un traveled to Russia’s Far Eastern city of Vladivostok for his first summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The summit is the latest in a series of diplomatic outreaches by Kim in recent months.

Kim has met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in three times and US President Donald Trump twice, though no significant progress has been made in ending North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

Earlier this month, a delegation from global rating appraiser S&P said, after its similar annual meeting with Hong, that geopolitical risks related to North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs are a negative factor in upgrading South Korea’s credit rating.

In 2018, S&P maintained its long-term sovereign rating for South Korea at AA -- the third-highest grade in the company’s evaluation scheme -- with its outlook remaining stable. (Yonhap)