The Korea Herald


[News Focus] Korea ranks 12th of 15 OECD members in Q2 growth

Major developed countries bouncing back faster

By Kim Yon-se

Published : Aug. 19, 2021 - 13:25

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The logo of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, headquartered in Paris (OECD) The logo of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, headquartered in Paris (OECD)

SEJONG -- South Korea’s economy underperformed in the second quarter of this year compared with those of major countries, recent GDP growth data showed.

Korea posted 0.7 percent GDP growth in the second quarter of 2021, which placed the country 12th out of the 15 members -- including the US, Germany, France and Italy -- of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Though the OECD has yet to compile the corresponding figures for the other 22 of the total 37 members or calculate an average, Korea fell far behind the current second-quarter average of 2 percent for the eurozone countries and 1.9 percent for the European Union.

The Paris-based organization’s research measures growth on a quarter-to-quarter basis, meaning the latest figures reflect growth, compared to the first quarter of 2021.
(Graphic by Kim Sun-young/The Korea Herald) (Graphic by Kim Sun-young/The Korea Herald)

The research showed that the US and major European countries outstripped Korea in this area.

The US ranked No. 6, with its economy having expanded 1.6 percent. Mexico stood at No. 7 with 1.5 percent.

Spain and Italy ranked fourth and fifth with 2.8 percent and 2.7 percent GDP growth, while Germany and France also ranked above Korea at 1.5 percent and 0.9 percent.

Portugal topped the list with 4.9 percent growth, followed by Austria (second) at 4.3 percent and Latvia (third) at 3.7 percent. Belgium and Sweden also outperformed Korea at 1.4 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively.

Though three of the 15 OECD countries ranked below Korea, their figures were not far behind Korea’s 0.7 percent. The Czech Republic and Canada posted 0.6 percent GDP growth, with Lithuania’s standing at 0.4 percent.

The OECD data also showed that some nonmembers posted higher rates than Korea, with China and Indonesia each seeing 1.3 percent growth over the corresponding period.

The research is not based on on-year growth, which compares the second quarter of 2021 with the same quarter of 2020. In addition, the OECD specified that figures for some of the 15 members -- which unveiled the second-quarter growth -- are provisional.

Nonetheless, it is estimated that major developed countries have experienced a relatively rapid bounce back in economic indices compared with Korea, said a brokerage-based analyst in Seoul.

“Further, given a full-fledged shutdown in many European countries in the second quarter of last year, their on-year growth is also estimated to have commonly outpaced that of Korea,” he said.

A researcher in Sejong estimated that active vaccination programs in Europe and the US, which started in December 2020, had a positive effect on economic activities during the April-June period.

He said the UEFA Euro 2020, a soccer event jointly hosted by 11 European nations in June 2021 after a one-year delay, could also give a significant boost to the sagging economy on the continent.

Certainly, there is a need to wait for the coming third-quarter GDP growth figures to confirm economic normalization as COVID-19 infection numbers once again surge in the US and Europe due to the worldwide spread of coronavirus variants, despite the high vaccination rates.

South Korea posted a negative quarter-to-quarter growth in the first (minus 1.3 percent) and second quarter (minus 3.2 percent) of 2020, when the pandemic dealt a severe blow to the economy.

After showing symptoms of rebounding by attaining positive 2.2 percent growth in the third quarter of 2020, 1.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020 and 1.7 percent in the first quarter of 2021, growth slowed to 0.7 percent in the second quarter of 2021.