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IMF Set to Pare South Korea 2013 Growth Estimate to About 3%

IMF Poised to Pare South Korea 2013 Growth Estimate to About 3%
Pedestrians walk along a street in the Gangnam district of Seoul. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

The International Monetary Fund is likely to pare its forecast for South Korea’s economic growth for 2013, catching up with reductions by the nation’s central bank and finance ministry.

The full-year expansion may be about 3 percent, compared with a 3.9 percent estimate in September last year, country mission chief Hoe Ee Khor said in an interview in Seoul after meeting with South Korean officials last week. He didn’t say when a new estimate may be released.

South Korea’s government is frontloading budget spending in the first half of this year to spur the nation’s expansion as gains in the won and a slide in the yen threaten to crimp exports. Paring the forecast would bring the IMF closer to the central bank’s prediction of 2.8 percent growth and the finance ministry’s 3 percent estimate.

The won has gained more than 21 percent against the yen in the past year, aiding Japanese exporters of cars and electronics that compete with South Korean companies. The won traded at 12.03 per yen as of 9:27 a.m. in Seoul today.

Khor said Asia’s fourth-biggest economy remains “very strong” and less vulnerable to shocks than in the past.

Growth was 1.5 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, matching a third-quarter pace that was the slowest since 2009.

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