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Korea fails to join World Government Bond Index

March 31, 2023 - 14:19 By Im Eun-byel

Electronic boards showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index at a dealing room of the Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)

Despite the government’s efforts, Korea failed to join World Government Bond Index, a global benchmark that measures the performance of sovereign bonds.

Financial Times Stock Exchange Russell, the index operator of WGBI, announced its Fixed Income Country Classification on Thursday. Korea will remain on the watch list, being placed on hold for its index inclusion until the next decision.

Korea, which had been on the watch list, a prerequisite for its potential inclusion, since September, was hoping to make it onto the index in March. It will, however, have to look forward to making the it onto the index in September this year.

“FTSE Russell will continue to gather feedback from market participants as the proposed reforms are implemented to assess the practical experiences of international investors against the requirements for a Market Accessibility Level upgrade,” the index operator said.

FTSE Russell blamed the low market accessibility of Korea’s financial market for foreign investors as a reason for the failure.

WGBI is one of the three major bond indices, followed by some $2.5 trillion to $3 trillion worth of funds. Korea and India are the only nations not included in the index among the top 10 nominal gross domestic product nations.

The government has been pushing for WGBI inclusion in the hopes that it will lead to an inflow of foreign funds worth up to $60 billion. The inclusion in the index is projected to help elevate the status and worth of Korean state bonds.

The Finance Ministry said it will put in the utmost effort to have Korea make the WGBI listing through continued improvements to its financial market structure and communication with global investors.

Prior to the announcement, the market deemed Korea is likely to make the inclusion in September as the global index operator needs some time to assess feedback from market participants on the new initiatives proposed by the government.

To improve market accessibility, the government is set to drop the Investor Registration Certificate measure required for foreign investors. It has additionally proposed to extend the operating hours of its foreign exchange market.