Seoul - South Korea will try to reduce its heavy reliance on exports to China as it seeks to diversify its overseas markets to Southeast Asia, the country’s top trade official said Monday as Yonhap news agency reports.
Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong made the comments in a meeting with government and industry officials on how to bolster trade at the Korea Export Insurance Corp. building in central Seoul. South Korean shipments to China accounted for 26.8 percent of its total exports in 2018, making the world’s second-largest economy the country’s top trading partner, according to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Energy.
Kim said South Korea plans to discuss forging bilateral free trade deals with the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia as part of Seoul’s efforts to diversify into emerging markets.
Seoul has sought stronger economic ties with Southeast Asian countries to reduce its heavy reliance on large markets like the United States and China and to foster new growth drivers. South Korea’s exports to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) rose from 10.4 percent in 2007 to 16.6 percent in 2017 on the back of brisk sales of semiconductors, displays and various consumer goods. South Korea set a goal of raising the trade volume with the regional economic bloc to over US$200 billion by 2020.
The ASEAN member countries are Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore and Thailand, with their combined population estimated at 640 million.