Nov. 25 (UPI) -- South Korea's sluggish economy could recover incrementally in 2020 on the strength of exports, according to a Seoul-funded research institute.
The Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade forecast annual economic growth for Asia's fourth-largest economy could reach 2.3 percent, local news services Newsis and News 1 reported Monday. The rate is higher than in 2019, or 2 percent, according to reports.
Exports are expected to rise in 2020 after a year of decline, owing to a recovery in the global semiconductor market. Total South Korean exports could reach $559.6 billion, up from the estimated $545.8 billion for 2019, which also marks a 9.8 percent decrease from 2018.
Imports in 2020 are expected to increase 3.3 percent, to $521 billion. The national trade balance or surplus is $38.7 billion.
In its economic and industrial outlook, KIET said exports will only "increase slightly" due to uncertainties in the global economy. Consumption is expected to remain sluggish, but South Korean policies could have a positive impact on investments.
A total of 12 major South Korean industries could enjoy a rebound in exports: shipbuilders by 21.2 percent, semiconductors by 8.3 percent, rechargeable batteries by 4.1 percent and general machinery by 0.4 percent.
Semiconductor exports could increase at a decreasing rate, due to an oversupply of memory in the market. In other sectors, the demand for 5G telecommunications and data centers could expand, and commodities for those markets could be in high demand, according to KIET.
Exports are expected to rise sharply for South Korean shipbuilders who won high-priced contracts between 2016 and 2019 for building LNG, or liquefied natural gas, ships and container vessels. The ships are to be delivered to clients next year.
South Korean exports of display panels are forecast to slow in 2020, due to capacity expansion in China and China's increased production of organic light-emitting diode technology, or OLED, according to KIET.