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Summary of Report -
Outlook for 2013-17
The president, Lee Myung-bak of the ruling Saenuri Party (formerly the Grand National Party), will remain in office until February 2013, but he has become a lame duck as attention has shifted to the race to succeed him.
Government effectiveness could be hindered in the forecast period if either an opposition or independent candidate wins the presidential election, as they would have to contend with a Saenuri Party-dominated legislature.
The death in late 2011 of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, has generated new uncertainties in South Korea, whose ties with the US will deepen as the two try to bring about economic reform and denuclearisation in the North.
The economy is forecast to expand by 3.7% in 2013. Growth will be driven primarily by private consumption, as the external sector's contribution will remain subdued. Real GDP growth in 2014-17 will average 3.8% annually.
In 2013 consumer price inflation is expected to remain within the revised 2.53.5% target range of the Bank of Korea (BOK, the central bank). In 2014-17 price rises will average 2.9% a year.
The current-account surplus will rise to the equivalent of 2.2% of GDP in 2013, from an estimated 2.1% in 2012, owing primarily to a pick-up in exports.
In September Moon Jae-in won the presidential nomination for the opposition Democratic Unity Party. An independent candidate, Ahn Cheol-soo, announced his candidacy shortly after.
In October the government received agreement from the US to an extension of the permissible range of South Korea's missiles. The move may inflame further already tense relations, owing to various maritime disputes, in Asia.
The BOK cut interest rates by 25 basis points to 2.75% in October. The decision to slash rates came despite an increase in inflation in September.
In September the administration released its proposed budget for 2013, which no longer envisions a balanced budget by next year. The budget requires parliamentary approval, which is not likely to be given until the end of 2012.
Industrial production, a broad gauge of manufacturing activity in South Korea, declined by 1.7% month on month in August, following a 0.2% gain in July.
Merchandise exports continued to fall in September, dropping by 1.8% year on year. Export growth has now contracted for three consecutive months and in seven months of 2012 so far.
Country Report South Korea October 2012: , is available at: