[SEOUL] South Korea is concerned over the impact on its economy from the outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) and will take countermeasures swiftly if an economic impact is confirmed, the finance minister said on Monday. "I am concerned over the negative influence the recent Mers outbreak could have on the local economy, including private consumption and investment sentiment," Finance Minister Choi Kyung-hwan said in a prepared speech to be given at a luncheon. "We will aggressively respond to mitigate the effect of Mers on the economy, including allocating necessary budgeting at the right time." The finance minister also asked South Koreans to cooperate to make sure excessive fear over the virus outbreak does not hinder economic activity.
He did not mention any possibility of a supplementary budget aimed at providing stimulus to the economy.
Mr Choi added difficulties faced by local exporters are growing due to a prolonged weakness of the yen and euro and reaffirmed that the government will announce measures to help ease difficulties for exporting industries soon.
His comments follow just hours after the health ministry reported 23 new infections on Monday, bringing the total to 87 and making South Korea the second-most infected country in the world after Saudi Arabia. Six deaths have been reported.