South Korea’s trade surplus with the United States this year is expected to hit a five-year low as the country has been more watchful of the gains ahead of a renegotiation in the bilateral free trade agreement.
Korean exports to the U.S. amounted to $63.3 billion and imports $46.3 billion in the January-November period, with trade surplus standing at $17 billion, down 21.6 percent from a year earlier, according to Korea International Trade Association and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Wednesday.
At this pace, Korea’s trade surplus with the U.S. is expected to fall below $20 billion for full 2017 for the first time in five years. After first breaking the $20 billion mark in 2013, Korea’s trade surplus with the U.S. grew to $25 billion in 2014 and reached a record high of $25.8 billion in 2015.
But it slipped to $23.3 billion in 2016 and has shrunk even further this year as imports from the U.S. surged 18.7 percent, outstripping the 4.3 percent gain in Korea’s exports to the world’s largest economy.
By item, Korea’s outbound shipments of telecommunication devices and car parts to the U.S. fell while imports grew for LPG, semiconductor manufacturing equipment, agricultural and livestock goods over the same period.
The two governments will be revisiting the bilateral FTA upon the request of President Donald Trump, who has been an outspoken critic of free trade deals, claiming they hurt U.S. jobs and industries.
Korea is the seventh largest trading partner of the U.S. while the U.S. is Korea`s second biggest partner after China.
By Ko Jae-man and Kim Hyo-jin
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