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Working Paper

New Challenges to the Korean Economy and Their International Implications

페이스북
커버이미지
  • 저자 양수길(楊秀吉)
  • 발행일 1990/04/01
  • 시리즈 번호 9004
원문보기
요약 Korea`s successful pursuit of an export-led development
strategy has led to rapid economic growth and industrialization
since the early 1960s. As a result, Korea, one of the poorest
agricultural countries with a small and stagnant economy a
quarter century ago, is now known as one of the most dynamic
members in the league of newly industrialized economies (NIEs),
with an economy among the largest in the developing world.

But just as this success became apparent, the economy
began a sharp downward slide. The growth of exports, which
began to slow down in late 1988, has continued to do so
unchecked. Since then, Korea`s economic performance has
continued to worsen. The growth rate was nearly halved from
12.2 percent in 1988 to 6.5 percent in 1989. The current account
surplus declined from 14.2 billion dollars or 8.4 percent of GNP
in 1988 to 5.5 billion dollars or about 2.5 percent of GNP in
1989. The dramatic loss of Korea`s economic dynamism is due
to a drastic slowdown in export growth between 1988 and 1989,
from 28 percent to 3 percent in dollar terms, and from 15
percent to -7 percent in volume terms. The projection for 1990
calls for a virtual disappearance of the current account surplus
as well as accelerated price increases.

The feeling that now pervades Korea is that the economy is
facing a serious crisis and that the government is not doing
enough to address it. The Korean economy has grown to a
stage where it should adjust to higher wages at have and more
competition abroad. The industrial structure and technological
capabilities have to be upgraded. And there is indeed an
economic crisis in the country in the sense that, following the
economic success so far which seems to have made some much
more affluent than others, and in the course of a rapid
democratization that has just begun, the existing foundation for
national cooperative efforts with which to accomplish the
warranted adjustment of the economy has collapsed, and no
alternative has yet been put into place. What are needed are a
number of reforms, and a realignment of policy priorities, to
ensure an equitable distribution of income. while some progress
has been made already, much more is yet to be achieved.
Hopefully, the recent political realignment will be instrumental in
promoting an early and effective implementation of the necessary
efforts.

The efficacy of the economic adjustment will depend
critically on the maintenance of an open multilateral trading
system. One should not be too optimistic in this regard. In any
case, open markets in the Asia-Pacific economies will be
extremely important, both in preventing a further worsening of
the global trading environment, and in helping each other remain
dynamic even in a situation of global protectionism. For this
reason, mutual cooperation in the region is of critical importance
and the leadership role in organizing this effort inevitably rests
much in the hands of Japan as well as such Asian NIES as
Korea.
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