S. Korea to enhance emergency market responses over Middle East crisis

Finance Minister Choi Sang-mok on Friday called for beefing up an emergency response system to minimize the impact of escalating tensions in the Middle East on the economy and the financial market. Choi made the remarks during a meeting meant to check external economic circumstances as concerns about a wider conflict in the Middle East have grown following Iran's drone and missile attack against Israel last week in response to a suspected Israeli attack on Iran's embassy in Syria. Foreign media reports on Thursday (U.S. time) said Iran fired air defense batteries after reports of explosions near the Iranian city of Isfahan. "Uncertainties have heightened further. We need to be on extra vigilance and strengthen the pan-government emergency response system to prevent the situation from negatively affecting our economy," Choi said during a teleconference with officials in Seoul. Choi is in Washington for a meeting of finance ministers and central bank deputies of the Group of 20 nations and the spring gathe rings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The government is ready to respond immediately with market stabilization funds containing 94 trillion won (US$67.97 billion), Choi said, vowing "instant and stern steps to excessive foreign exchange market volatility." The Middle East crisis has not directly affected South Korea's energy, exports and imports, supply chains or logistics, but the government will continue close monitoring through a governmentwide emergency response team, according to the finance ministry. Source: Yonhap News Agency