SEOUL, Dec. 22 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's technology trade reached an all-time high of US$31.6 billion last year, up 10.1 percent from 2018, government data showed Tuesday.
Technology trade refers to the country's international technology transactions, such as the use of patents, licenses and technical services, as opposed to tech products, according to the Ministry of Science and ICT.
The ICT ministry said outbound technology transfers amounted to $13.8 billion last year, compared with imports of $17.9 billion, leading to a trade deficit of $4.1 billion that highlights South Korea's reliance on foreign technology.
The ratio of tech exports to imports, however, rose last year to 0.77 for the ninth consecutive year from 0.33 in 2010.
By country, South Korea had the largest technology trade with the United States at $9.8 billion, accounting for 30.9 percent of last year's total.
South Korea also had a technology trade deficit of $4.6 billion with the U.S., with ICT ministry data showing that U.S. technology accounted for 40.2 percent of South Korea's total inbound technology transfers last year.
In terms of technology trade surplus, South Korea had the largest surplus with Vietnam last year at $2.4 billion.
The ICT ministry said the trade surplus is likely derived from royalties from South Korean direct investment into the country.
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