Vietnam remains S. Korea’s No. 3 trading partner in 2023

SEOUL, Vietnam remained South Korea's third-largest trading partner for the second straight year in 2023 though exports to and imports from the Southeast Asian nation slowed, data showed Monday. South Korea's trade with Vietnam came to US$79.43 billion last year, with exports sinking 12.3 percent to $53.49 billion, according to the data from the Korea International Trade Association (KITA). Imports from Vietnam also dropped 2.9 percent on-year to $25.94 billion, and South Korea's trade surplus shrank 19.5 percent to $27.55 billion. Vietnam outstripped Japan for the second consecutive year in 2023 to retain the No. 3 spot. South Korea's trade with Japan stood at $76.68 billion last year. China and the United States ranked first and second with $267.66 billion and $186.96 billion, respectively. KITA attributed last year's drop in trade with and exports to Vietnam to falling chip exports. South Korea's semiconductor shipments to Vietnam tumbled 21.6 percent on-year to $12.73 billion in 2023. Four other ex ports -- flat panels and sensors, petroleum products, wireless communications equipment and synthetic resins -- also went down last year, according to the data. South Korea's trade with Vietnam has been growing exponentially since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1992, when bilateral trade reached only $500 million. Bilateral trade volume gained further momentum as South Korea and Vietnam signed a free trade agreement in 2014. Vietnam was South Korea's eighth-largest trading partner that year, but its ranking surged to fourth place a year later. In 2022, Vietnam outpaced Japan and became South Korea's third-largest trading partner for the first time. Source: Yonhap News Agency