SEOUL, Feb. 12 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea’s trade surplus with the United States dropped 17 percent on-year in 2017, despite the fact that no changes have yet been made to the free trade pact that Washington claims unfairly favors Seoul, market watchers said Sunday, citing official data.
Observers said trade numbers released by the U.S. Department of Commerce last week showed that the Northeast Asian country imported US$48.28 billion worth of goods from and exported $71.16 billion of products to the world’s No. 1 economy.
The U.S. trade deficit stood at $22.88 billion, down a sharp $4.69 billion from the $27.57 billion tallied in 2016.
The commerce department said the drop in the trade imbalance was due mainly to U.S. companies increasing exports of semiconductor-related machinery, liquefied petroleum gas and meat produce, rising 14.1 percent compared to the previous year.
The official data comes as Seoul and Washington are engaged in talks to renegotiate the bilateral free trade agreement deal that went into effect March 2012.
U.S. exports to Asia’s fourth largest economy reached the highest level in history last year, Washington-based Korea Economic Institute estimated.
The think tank added that while America’s trade deficit rose 7.6 percent on-year vis-a-vis the world at large in 2017, numbers for South Korea went in the opposite direction.
Of Washington’s top 15 trading partners, five, including South Korea trimmed their surpluses.
In 2016, South Korea had the sixth-largest trade surplus with the U.S. but this ranking fell to ninth last year.
By country, the U.S. trade deficit with China hit $375.23 billion, up 8.1 percent compared to the previous year, with Mexico coming in second, followed by such countries as Canada and Japan.