U.S. Replaces China as Korea's Largest Export Market

tendata blogTrade Trends News

ten data blog08-01-2024

- Exports to the U.S. surpassed China for the first time in two decades.

- Political relations between Korea and the U.S. have recently tightened.

korea market,us export market,us as korea export market

South Korea's exports to the United States surpassed those to China last month for the first time in two decades, a sign of changing relations between the two countries amid tensions over global economic security and technology supply chains.

South Korea sold $11.3 billion in goods to the U.S. in December, compared with $10.9 billion to China, the trade ministry said Monday. The shift in stance came as South Korea's overall exports rose 5.1 percent year-on-year - the third consecutive month of growth after a year-long slump.

The change in stance partly reflects the economic challenges facing China, which led policymakers to introduce a series of stimulus measures last year. Nonetheless, one month's data does not provide decisive evidence of a conscious or lasting shift in trading patterns.

Given the size of Seoul's imports from the world's second-largest economy, China remains substantially ahead of South Korea's largest trading partner.

While exports to the U.S. grew year-on-year for the fifth consecutive month, South Korea said exports to China also continued to improve. Meanwhile, South Korea's overall imports fell 10.8 percent year-on-year, widening its trade surplus to $4.5 billion.

The figures come as the U.S. looks to win support for its agenda to reduce its reliance on China in global supply chains and limit the country's access to advanced semiconductor technology.

That puts countries like South Korea and Japan in an awkward position between their two biggest trading partners. Seoul and Tokyo are both key military allies of Washington, another important aspect given Beijing's growing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific and rising tensions in the region.

South Korea has forged stronger ties with the U.S. under President Yoon Seok-ryol. Yoon traveled to Washington last year with a host of South Korean executives, and in meetings with President Joe Biden and Congress, he proposed deepening ties with the United States.

South Korea and the U.S. signed a free trade agreement in 2012, so Seoul has benefited from U.S. laws that increasingly restrict the use of batteries and other products made in countries like China.

China is also increasing domestic production of goods as it moves up the value chain. A key area of focus for China is semiconductor and smartphone manufacturing, a development that has led to a decline in sales of goods produced by Samsung Electronics Co. and others.

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