6 ISSUE 1 • 2018 • WOOD IN ARCHITECTURE NEWS SOUTH KOREA RAISES GDP FORECAST TO 3%, BUT WOOD DEMAND TO REMAIN LOW AS FEWER HOUSING STARTS EXPECTED By Tai Jeong , Canada Wood Korea - Domestic consumption forecast to rise 0.1 percentage point - Fewer housing starts and building permits issued in first 11 months of 2017 - Lower lumber demand expected as cooling measures on housing to continue into 2018 d, Bank of Korea has raised South Korea’s GDP growth forecast for 2018 to three per cent on the back of domes Ɵ c consump Ɵ on recovery and robust export growth. With minimum wages raised by 16 per cent to 7,530 Won (US$6.60)—the biggest jump in about two decades— star Ɵ ng this year, consumer prices are expected to rise by 1.7 per cent. February’s Winter Olympics will also boost private consump Ɵ on by 0.1 percentage point in the Įrst quarter of this year. The Korean Won fell to a three-year lowof 1,061.2Won against theU.S. Dollar on January 2. Analysts say this will further fall below 1,000 Won if the geopoli Ɵ cal risk on the Korean Peninsula eases. 2017 TRADE Exports soared to an all-time high of US$573.9 billion in 2017, a 16 per cent increase thanks to recovery in the global economy. Trade volume exceededUS$1 trillion, as imports expanded 17.7 per cent to US$478.1 billion. Consumer prices grew 1.9 per cent in 2017 from a year earlier, marking the steepest gain in Įve years since 2012, on the back of a strong industrial goods and Įnancial services sector. Unemployment stood at 3.3 per cent in December, up 0.1 percentage point from a year earlier. HOUSING CONSTRUCTION Cooling measures on South Korea’s housing market have seen fewer starts andbuildingpermits, especially in thenew apartment market in Seoul. Housing starts fell 14.6 per cent to 90,497 while the number of units signiĮcantly decreased 23.2 per cent to 440,382 units in Nov last year. Housing permits during this period also dropped 10.2 per cent and 13.2 per cent respec Ɵ vely to 107,308 and 552,558 from a year earlier. While the overall residential construction sector is struggling, the number of wood building permits issued in the Įrst 11 months of 2017 increased 1.7 per cent to 15,841 buildings from a year earlier. Wood building starts, however, fell 6.5 per cent to 12,954 buildings during this period. The total Ňoor area of wood building permits for the same period in 2017 increased 5.8 per cent to 1,451,320m 2 but that ofwoodbuilding starts decreased slightly 3.8 per cent to 1,198,515m 2 from a year earlier. LUMBER SHIPMENTS B.C. so Ō wood lumber exports to South Korea for the Įrst 11 months of 2017 fell 5.7 per cent to 238,184cbm compared to 252,651cbm during the same period in 2016. This ismainlydue to thegovernment’s efforts in limiting the supply of new homes (from August 2016), especially apartments in Seoul to keep household debt and rising home prices in check. However, the export value for the same period rose a slight 2.8 per cent to US$54.6million (CAD$68.678million) for the same period in 2016. LumberpricesinCanadahavetrended upward for almost two years and reached 13-year highs in July, 2016. On the other hand, Nordic lumber prices have been depressed in U.S. Dollar terms, resul Ɵ ng their current price levels to be the lowest they have been in eight years. | WIA Wood construction in South Korea: The Forest Genetic Resources Department at the Korea Forest Research Institute features the largest wood-framed building in the country.