SEOUL, March 29 (Korea Bizwire) — While exports to China were once behind South Korea’s largest trade surplus with a foreign country, Beijing is now the source of Seoul’s largest trade deficit, a state-run trade agency said Tuesday.
South Korea’s trade balance with China was a deficit of US$3.9 billion in January, with China becoming South Korea’s trade partner with largest trade deficit, according to the data compiled by the Korea International Trade Association.
The trade balance in January and February was a deficit of $5 billion.
Never before has China become South Korea’s trade partner with the largest deficit.
The situation more or less remained the same in March. Exports to China had dropped by 36.2 percent as of March 20, while imports were up by 9.1 percent compared to last year.
Sorted by year, China has gone from becoming South Korea’s trade partner with largest surplus ($55.6 billion) in 2018 to moving down to 22nd place as one of Seoul’s smallest trading partners ($1.2 billion) last year.
The change is mostly attributed to Beijing’s economic downturn, which has led to shrinking exports to China, while Chinese imports, including lithium, have gone up due to the rising cost of base materials.
As of January and February of this year, the deficit was most visible in the fine chemicals sector ($1.8 billion), followed by batteries ($1.3 billion), computers ($1.12 billion), and industrial electronic devices ($732 million).
Lina Jang (email@example.com)