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Moon confidant of exports recovery this year

15:10 January 14, 2020

SEJONG, Jan. 14 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in voiced confidence Tuesday that South Korea's exports can rebound this year and the nation's economy will make a leap forward.

Moon made the remarks in his press conference for the new year earlier in the day, a day after South Korea reported a rare gain in exports for the first 10 days of the month. "Since December last year, there have been signs that exports are improving," Moon said. "Also this month, exports rose 5.3 percent in the first 10 days."

Moon stopped short of predicting that exports may rise or fall in January but said he is confident that the average daily exports would increase this month.

South Korea's economy is expected to have suffered its weakest annual growth in a decade last year, hit by a lengthy U.S.-China trade war and a cyclical slump in the memory chip sector.

President Moon Jae-in answers a reporter's questions at his press conference for the new year at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Jan. 14, 2020. (Yonhap)

South Korea's exports fell 10.3 percent on-year in 2019 to $542.4 billion, according to government data.

For December last year, the monthly exports slipped 5.2 percent on-year to $45.7 billion to extend their slump to a whopping 13th consecutive month.

But this year's outbound shipments are forecast to rise 3 percent.

The economy, Asia's fourth-largest, is expected to grow 2.4 percent this year, following last year's estimated 2 percent expansion, on the back of an anticipated recovery in the memory chip sector and a series of policy measures.

Moon has put his top economic priority on achieving the growth target by further strengthening innovation and helping the economy run more vigorously.

"It is clear that positive indices are increasing, while negative indices are decreasing," Moon said.

Controversy has been growing over the government's innovation-led growth plans since a National Assembly committee passed a revised bill that would significantly restrict the business of ride-hailing operator Tada.

Tada, the Korean word for "ride," was launched in October 2018 and has rapidly grown to become Korea's leading ride-offering service. It offers ride-hailing services with rented vans.

The revised bill prevents companies from offering paid ride-sharing services with rented vans that have a seating capacity of 11 to 15 passengers.

If the bill is passed at the plenary session of the National Assembly and signed into law, it would drive Tada out of its current app-based business.

President Moon Jae-in speaks at his press conference for the new year at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Jan. 14, 2020. (Yonhap)

Moon said the government would launch a "social body" to resolve the issue of Tada.

The new organization will help Tada continue its businesses while guaranteeing interests of conventional taxi drivers, Moon said.

On the property market, Moon stepped up his commitment to stabilize home prices in Seoul and its neighboring areas, warning that the government would unveil an "endless" set of tougher measures unless home prices show signs of stabilization.

In his address for 2020, Moon said the government "remains firmly committed to stabilizing the real estate market, protecting genuine owner-occupants and curbing speculation."

"We will never lose the war against real estate speculation. At the same time, by expanding the housing supply as planned, we will see to it that the residential stability of newlyweds, those living alone and other average citizens is safeguarded," Moon said.

Last month, the government unveiled tougher measures to rein in a rise in housing prices.

Under the measures, mortgage loans have been banned when buying a house worth over 1.5 billion won in Seoul and other areas since mid-December last year.

The loan-to-value ratio for the purchase of a home valued from 900 million won to 1.5 billion won will be cut to 20 percent from the current 40 percent.

kdh@yna.co.kr
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