South Korea will be fully prepared for any scenarios related to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas to minimize its impact on inflation and the broader economy, a senior finance ministry official said Thursday.
First Vice Finance Minister Kim Byoung-hwan made the remarks while presiding over an emergency economic meeting meant to discuss responses to the worst clash in decades between the two sides that began last week.
"The conflict has caused limited impacts on the international financial market and the real economy, but we must be fully prepared for all possibilities as it is hard to be optimistic about future developments," Kim said.
"The government will continue thorough monitoring of the market and economic situations round-the-clock, and review contingency plans for immediate responses," he added.
The government will further strengthen efforts to ensure stable prices by conducting special on-site inspections to prevent potential hikes in prices of petroleum products amid greater volatility of global oil prices.
Concerns have grown about a full-blown war in the Middle East, which would push up oil prices and intensify inflationary pressures.
South Korea depends on imports for most of its energy needs, and some 67 percent of its crude oil purchases and 37 percent of its total gas deals come from the Middle East.
South Korea's consumer prices logged the highest on-year increase of 3.7 percent in five months in September, though the government forecast the growth in prices would begin to ease around October. It set this year's target at a 3.3 percent rise.
The industry ministry held a separate meeting with major domestic gas companies, including SK Gas Ltd., E1 Corp. and POSCO International Corp., on Thursday to check the supply situation and discuss joint responses.
No major issues have been reported regarding gas supplies despite the ongoing war, as crude oil and liquefied natural gas carriers heading to South Korea are operating normally, according to the ministry.
"We've secured natural gas imports enough to meet wintertime demand. The government will cooperate closely with the relevant industries to ensure stable gas supplies," Second Vice Industry Minister Kang Kyung-sung said.
Source: Yonhap News Agency