BOK sees no need to trim GDP growth forecasts

Credit: REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

SEOUL, Sept 22 (Reuters) - South Korea's central bank said on Tuesday it sees no need to downgrade its current economic growth projections, even after the government imposed tougher social distancing measures to curb a fresh spike in coronavirus cases.

"South Korea's economy is currently on track to meet (the Bank of Korea's) growth forecasts," Kim Woong, director general of the bank's research department, told a media briefing held online.

"There haven't been any (economic) indicators since the bank's previous forecast that particularly requires any change," Kim said.

In late August, the BOK sharply downgraded its 2020 growth outlook to a 1.3% contraction - the biggest contraction in more than two decades - from its previous prediction of 0.2% decline.

The government, since then, imposed unprecedented social distancing measures such as banning onsite dining after 9 p.m. and limiting coffee and bakery franchises to takeout and delivery, which heavily restricted social activities and damaged businesses.

Though health authorities temporarily eased those measures for two weeks from Sept. 14, they will return to tougher guidelines again from Sept. 28 during the Chuseok holiday.

"The recovery in private consumption will be slower than expected going forward," Kim said, adding the coronavirus could change consumption behaviour and industrial structure if it lasts longer.

(Reporting by Joori Roh; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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