S. Korea now ranks world’s 10th biggest economy

Posted on : 2021-04-22 16:55 KST Modified on : 2021-04-22 16:55 KST
South Korea advanced two ranks from 2019, suffering relatively little harm from COVID-19
The International Monetary Fund logo
The International Monetary Fund logo

South Korea ranked 10th worldwide in terms of nominal gross domestic product (GDP) last year. Korea advanced two ranks from 2019, suffering relatively little harm from the global economic contraction caused by COVID-19.

According to the World Economic Outlook, released Wednesday by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), South Korea’s nominal GDP last year stood at US$1.63 trillion, down US$15.8 billion (-1.0%) from the previous year (US$1.65 trillion).

But other countries suffered a much sharper decline in GDP amid the pandemic, lifting South Korea to 10th place.

That wasn’t the only impact COVID-19 had on global economic rankings.

Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, Brazil (US$1.88 trillion) and Russia (US$1.69 trillion) were both ranked above Korea, at 9th and 11th, respectively. But those two countries’ GDP plummeted more than 10% -- to US$1.43 trillion and US$1.47 trillion, respectively – during the pandemic, pushing them below South Korea.

Brazil dropped three places, from 9th to 12th, below Russia, which remained at 11th. Brazil and Russia posted economic growth rates of -4.1% and -3.1%, respectively, last year.

The countries ahead of South Korea in the rankings are the big four – the US (US$20.93 trillion), China (US$14.72 trillion), Japan (US$5.49 trillion), and Germany (US$3.8 trillion) – along with the UK (US$2.711 trillion), India (US$2.709 trillion), France (US$2.6 trillion), Italy (US$1.88 trillion), and Canada (US$1.64 trillion).

Among the top nine, India’s economy shrank from US$2.871 trillion in 2019 to US$2.709 in 2020, ceding 5th place to the UK.

These changes in the rankings aren’t expected to be reversed. The IMF predicts that South Korea will stay in 10th place through 2026. While there may be some movement within the top ten, there are unlikely to be any entrances or exits, the IMF said.

The IMF predicts that South Korea will post a GDP of US$1.81 trillion in 2021, surpassing its 2019 level. It’s then expected to exceed US$2 trillion with a GDP of US$2.05 trillion in 2024 and to reach US$2.22 trillion in 2026, while remaining in 10th place globally.

By Lee Jeong-hun, staff reporter

Please direct comments or questions to [english@hani.co.kr]

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