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South Korea to unveil stimulus plan as exports sag

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South Korea's finance minister on Tuesday flagged a new government stimulus plan to help offset an extended export slump that is threatening growth in Asia's fourth-largest economy.

[SEOUL] South Korea's finance minister on Tuesday flagged a new government stimulus plan to help offset an extended export slump that is threatening growth in Asia's fourth-largest economy.

The stimulus package for the first quarter will be unveiled on Wednesday, Yoo Il Ho told a business forum in Seoul.

"We will provide support more actively ... in order to bolster the business vitality of exporters," Mr Yoo said.

"We will also provide all possible support so that companies can hire and invest more actively," he added.

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Last year, the South's economy grew at its slowest pace since 2012 as exports - which account for about a half of GDP - faltered in the face of a global slowdown and rock-bottom oil prices.

Exports for the whole of 2015 fell 8.0 per cent - the first contraction for three years.

And 2016 got off to a bad start, with overseas shipments in January plunging nearly 20 per cent on-year - the sharpest fall in more than six years.

Low crude prices dealt a blow to many South Korean businesses that produce petroleum products - a crucial segment of the export profile.

The Bank of Korea last month revised its GDP growth forecast down from 3.2 per cent to 3.0 per cent for this year, citing factors like the signs of a slowdown in China - the South's biggest export market.

AFP

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