Page last updated at 08:55 GMT, Friday, 24 July 2009 09:55 UK

South Korea economy grows by 2.3%

South Korean woman walks past a poster of a paper airplane made of a US dollar (5 September 2008)
Government spending helped boost economic growth

South Korea's economy expanded in the second quarter by its fastest rate in five-and-a-half years.

Gross domestic product rose 2.3% from the previous three months. It fell 2.5% from the same quarter a year earlier, a smaller-than-expected fall.

Increased government spending, help for car buyers and record low interest rates helped boost the economy, the country's central bank said.

South Korea's economy is the third largest in Asia and 13th in the world.

Tax benefits

The growth in the April-to-June period - the biggest such rise since the fourth quarter of 2003 - compares with 0.1% growth from January to March and a 5.1% drop in the October-to-December period.

Its exports rose 14.7% in the second quarter compared with the previous three months, helped by a weak won.

"The domestic demand growth was aided by tax benefits for car purchasers and fiscal spending. It's hard to say the economy is set for self-driven recovery, given the dim jobs market outlook," Kim Myung-kee at the Bank of Korea.

While economists welcomed the data, they voiced some caution.

South Korea's growth was "driven a good mix of strong fiscal stimulus, a weak won and monetary easing". But it is unclear if, as fiscal stimulus wanes and credit expansion slows, this growth will continue, Mr Kim added.

The country traditionally enjoys major export success in a number of manufacturing industries, but especially shipbuilding, car-making and electronics.

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