SEJONG, April 24 (Yonhap) — South Korea will make its utmost efforts to help its economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic in the second half, as the nation plans an unprecedented aid package to cushion economic fallout from the virus outbreak, a senior finance ministry official said Friday.

Vice Finance Minister Kim Yong-beom, however, painted a bleaker picture of second-quarter economic situations, saying that global lockdowns could take a bigger toll on the nation’s exports.

“The government will make its utmost efforts for exports and domestic consumption to recover in the second half,” Kim said in a meeting with senior ministry officials.

However, a swift economic recovery is unlikely as the pandemic began inflicting damage to local job markets, Kim said.

South Korea’s economy contracted 1.4 percent on-quarter in the first quarter of this year, as the pandemic crippled industrial output, consumer spending and job markets.

It marked the sharpest quarterly contraction since the fourth quarter of 2008, when the nation’s economy sank 3.3 percent on-quarter, according to the Bank of Korea.

Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said Thursday that the pandemic’s shocks to South Korea’s exports and job markets could widen in the second quarter.

This week, the government announced an aid package worth 40 trillion won (US$32 billion) for key industries hit by the pandemic and another 10 trillion-won scheme to protect jobs.

South Korea’s exports sank 27 percent on-year in the first 20 days of April to $21.7 billion.