By Kang Yoon-seung
SEJONG, Jan. 26 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean economy is expected to rebound in the first quarter of the year on the back of China's reopening, the country's finance minister said Thursday.
Asia's No. 4 economy shrank 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter of last year from three months earlier, compared with the previous quarter's 0.3 percent on-quarter growth, largely due to weak exports, showed data from the Bank of Korea.
For all of 2022, the economy posted a 2.6 percent on-year growth, the slowest in two years.
"Challenges have spread to the real economy around the globe, due to the sharp rate hikes in major countries last year," Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho said during a meeting with economy-related ministers.
As for the first quarter of this year, Choo said the economy is anticipated to post growth on a base effect, along with the reopening of the Chinese economy. China is the biggest trading partner of South Korea.
Choo also reiterated his view that while South Korea will continue to face more hurdles in the first half, it will experience a gradual rebound later in the year in sync with the recovery of the chip industry.
South Korea's exports fell 2.7 percent on-year in the first 20 days of January, due mainly to weak semiconductor shipments.