SEOUL, Dec. 4 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea and China agreed Monday to establish a bilateral dialogue mechanism on export controls and further activate a hotline for supply chains of major industry items, Seoul’s industry ministry said.
The agreement was made during a meeting between South Korea’s Trade Minister Ahn Duk-geun and Wang Shouwen, China’s international trade representative and vice minister of commerce, held in Beijing earlier in the day, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
The two officials agreed to further activate a hotline between their ministries to discuss supply chain issues, as South Korea called for “an imminent action” to address China’s recent delay of customs procedures for urea exports to Seoul.
Urea solution is a key fluid used in diesel vehicles to cut emissions, and South Korea is heavily dependent on China for urea supply.
In 2021, South Korea suffered major disruptions to its logistics networks after China restricted its urea exports.
During the meeting, the two sides also agreed to establish a director-level consultation channel on export curbs and vowed to hold working-level talks to set details.
South Korea and China reached a consensus on the envisioned establishment when their industry ministers met in San Francisco last month.
South Korea had imported 91.8 percent of its urea for diesel vehicles and other industrial purposes from China as of October 2023, up from 71.7 percent the previous year, according to the data by the Korea Customs Service.
The proportion of Chinese urea for fertilizers came to 22.5 percent this year, up from 18.3 percent in 2022.
On Monday, Ahn and Wang also held the fifth joint committee meeting of the South Korea-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in Beijing and discussed ways to expand bilateral economic cooperation.
“The two sides agreed to make joint efforts to come up with ways to improve their FTA and vowed to push for joint research to better deal with digital, green and other new trade issues within the framework,” the ministry said in a release.
Since 2015, when the bilateral FTA came into force, two-way trade had jumped 36.5 percent to US$310.4 billion last year, government data showed.