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Korea will be better-off than Japan in 2030: ADB

The Asian Development Bank said Tuesday that Koreans will enjoy a higher standard of living than the Japanese by 2030, projecting the country’s gross domestic product per capita and purchasing power to exceed that of Japan.

In a Seoul seminar co-hosted by the Finance Ministry, the regional lender said the GDP per capita of Korea will stand at $56,000 by 2030, above Japan’s $53,000. It said Korea’s GDP per capita will be similar to that of the U.S. by 2050, at around $98,000.

In its “Asia 2050” publication, the ADB introduced Korea as a case of successfully weathering the “middle income trap.”

“In a steadily growing economy per capita GDP rises continuously ― the experience of Korea. But many middle income countries do not follow this pattern,” ADB said. The middle income trap refers to a pattern of stagnation after rapid expansion based on exports, most common in emerging economies.

In his speech, Vice Finance Minister Shin Je-yoon said the region would need to integrate further and vigorously fight climate change to sustain its growth momentum.

“In the medium- and long-term, we must go beyond financial cooperation. Economic integration should be further developed,” he said.

The ADB in its Asia 2050 report said seven economies ― Brunei, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Macau, Singapore and Taiwan ― are the driving engines of Asia for the next 40 years which will grow to represent more than half of global output by 2050. It projected growth in Asian economies to proliferate and said some 3 billion people will enjoy much higher standard of living.

“Affluent Asia will have the majority of the world’s middle class by 2050 and the seven could account for 90 percent of Asian GDP even as their share of Asia’s population falls below 75 percent,” ADB said.

The seven had a combined GDP of $14.2 trillion last year, making up 87 percent of Asian GDP.

By Cynthia J. Kim. (cynthiak@heraldcorp.com)
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