On January 17 we met for the main session at the Hyatt to discuss the prospects for 2024. 2024 looks to be a pivotal year both on a national and a global level determining the shape of the next five or more years. In Korea we have the April elections which will decide whether the government or the opposition will control the National Assembly while globally half the planet’s population will have the opportunity to vote (although not always with a real choice) with all eyes on the US election in November. Korea’s economic policy makers will be struggling to revive the domestic economy while globally central banks and diplomats will decide changes in interest rates, rules on trade, coexisting with AI, climate change and geopolitical security concerns which will affect us all.
Our first session in 2024 looked at the potential of Korea, both politically in the elections of April, and economically plus Korea’s role as president of the UNSC in May. On economic growth we will be studying both prospects for exports and the domestic economy and concluding with SK’s zero emissions corporate growth gambit demonstrated at the Las Vegas CES this January.
We now know that BOK was right, growth for 2023 was 1.4% and technical GDP growth in 2023 Q4 was close to or at 2.2% YoY- the same as BOK’s forecast for 2024 H1. But I was right that the figures for every part of the domestic economy were miserable. Only rising exports and falling imports produced growth. I am sending a brief explanation with this invite. December export figures were promising with chip exports increasing. (But were the chips produced in Q4 or from the inventory crammed in warehouses from previous quarters? I will explain why it matters when we meet.). While the government and press constantly talk about the revival of chip exports as the key to growth, very few of the 51.78 million people in Korea benefit directly or indirectly from chip production and only a limited number from exports. President Yoon has promised to cut back capital gains taxes, and cut an estimated 1 trillion won in tax income when Korea already failed to match income to budget in 2023 and is likely to do so again in 2024 damaging his flagship goal of reducing debt to GDP. Composing a 2024 budget against mixed needs, falling revenue and the growing issue of falling fertility rates is going to be a major task. I will go through the excellent Jan 4 Economic Plan of the new DPM Mr Choi in some detail to show that most of the recent announcements coming from the PPP are actually in the Jan 4 plan.
We rarely talk about North Korea in KBF sessions but in 2024 the risk of accidental conflict is rising, rather than decreasing tension, and this becomes the elephant in the room as globally geopolitical tensions are expected to increase – although we have passed the Taiwan elections without any immediate consequences. Our briefing will look at these developments from a risk analysis point of view.
This will be an active session in which everyone should voice their opinion. We will also be handing out our draft programme for 2024 for members to vote on which subjects they prefer. Please join us in person or online. If you are not a member contact us for options.
Our main session in February will be on Feb 15th and held at the Swiss Embassy and look in depth at the elections and the risks of debt.