The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) announced that South Korea overtook Japan to become the largest exporter to China this year for the first time, despite the global economic slowdown. The announcement was made at the ceremony to mark the 50th Annual Trade Day held at the COEX Convention Center in Seoul on December 5.
According to the MOTIE, Korea’s exports to China reached US$150 billion as of late October. The figure represents 9.4% of the total, making Asia’s fourth-largest economy the top exporter to the world’s second-largest economy. The next spot was taken by Japan with US$133.2 billion, and the gap between Korea and Japan totaled US$17 billion. Thus, it appears to be impossible for the world’s third-largest economy to displace the world’s 13th-largest economy. Japan has maintained the top spot in China’s export partner rankings until beaten by Korea this year.
This year, Korea is expected to achieve US$1 trillion in annual trade for the third straight year, and the country’s exports and trade surplus are also likely to surge to record highs. Exports are estimated at US$560 billion, a year-on-year increase of more than 2%, while the trade surplus is projected to be around US$43 billion.
“I’d like to move forward with a second drive for nation building through export promotion under the goal of becoming the world’s fifth-largest trading nation and attaining US$2 trillion in annual trade by 2020,” said President Park Geun-hye at the ceremony. President Park added, “I will actively seek to accomplish three major tasks of nurturing new export industries, increasing export capabilities of small and medium-sized enterprises, and strengthening sales diplomacy and our foundation for free trade.”
The President also pointed out, “Korea will be able to become a major power in intermediary and processing trade by combining our advantage of the geographical location in the middle of Northeast Asia, our institutional base for free trade with countries, and local companies’ global production networks.”
She concluded by saying, “Through an FTA with China, I will lay the groundwork to facilitate local companies’ entry into the Chinese market. I will also actively respond to future developments in regional free trade discussions, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, in a way that maximizes our national interests.”