|President Moon Jae-in speaks at an event marking Trade Day at COEX in southern Seoul, Friday. / Yonhap|
By Kim Bo-eun
South Korea has achieved the country's long-held goal of surpassing annual per capita income of $30,000, President Moon Jae-in said Friday.
"As the seventh country in the world, South Korea has joined the 30-50 club, which refers to an economic power with $30,000 per capita income and a population of 50 million," Moon said at an event held at COEX in southern Seoul, citing a forecast by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It expects the country to reach $32,000 annual per capita income this year. The $30,000 level is widely regarded as marking the ascension to a developed economy.
Moon said Asia's fourth-largest economy is forecast to reach $600 billion in total exports by the end of the year, for the first time ever. He also said the country reached $1 trillion won in trade volume in the shortest period of time ― and cited forecasts that by the end of the year, this will exceed $1.1 trillion, the largest figure yet.
At the event, the President said the government will seek to reach a deal on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) by next year.
The RCEP is a multilateral framework for free trade among 16 countries including 10 ASEAN states plus South Korea, China, Japan, Australia, India and New Zealand. This will expand free trade with countries whose population accounts for half of the world and GDP accounts for a third, he said.
Moon admitted that the government was unable to address rising unemployment issues and added the country is facing other problems including tougher circumstances for the self-employed, and difficulties businesses are facing due to the raised minimum wage.
He said measures and a budget have been drawn up to deal with these problems.
At the same time, he asked for labor and management, and the private sector and government to make concessions and cooperate.
"It is difficult to enable inclusive growth only through government efforts. Workers, businesses and the government must work together," he said.
The president stressed that Korea should go in the direction of "inclusive growth."
"Growth without employment has become the norm and economic inequality and polarization has worsened, impeding growth."
Moon said the achievements the country has reaped through exports should lead to inclusive growth.
"The expansion of exports should lead to an increase in jobs and should go in the direction of improving the lives of the people," he said.
"Only when we reduce the gap (between the haves and have-nots) and go toward inclusive growth will we be able to achieve sustainable growth."
At the event, 600 businesspeople who contributed to the country's exports were awarded, and 2,264 businesses were acknowledged for their efforts.