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S. Korea eyes record high exports for 2021: minister

Economy 15:00 June 08, 2021

By Kang Yoon-seung

SEJONG, June 8 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is close to setting a new record for annual exports in 2021 on the back of the country's successful response to the new coronavirus pandemic, the industry minister said Tuesday.

"South Korea did not implement any lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic and allowed factories to maintain their operations," Industry Minister Moon Sung-wook said during a meeting with reporters in the central city of Sejong.

"We can say that (trade partners) acknowledged (South Korea's) stability and its capability to cope with the economic crisis," he added.

South Korea has been lauded as one of the most successful countries in containing the spread of the new coronavirus.

The country added 454 more COVID-19 cases Tuesday, raising the total caseload reported since January last year to 145,091, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

Moon said South Korea's successful control of the COVID-19 pandemic has paved the way for the country to report record-setting export figures for 2021, beating the previous record of $605 billion posted in 2018.

Industry Minister Moon Sung-wook speaks during a press meeting in the central city of Sejong on Feb. 8, 2021, in this photo provided by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

South Korea's exports jumped 45.6 percent on-year in May to extend their gains to a seventh consecutive month due to strong demand for chips amid the global economic recovery. It marked the sharpest jump since 52.6 percent posted in August 1988.

In 2020, the country's outbound shipments came to $512.8 billion, down 5.4 percent from 2019 due to the economic fallout from the pandemic.

Moon, however, warned the soaring freight costs and disruptions in the global supply chain may hamper outbound shipments down the road.

"(The global supply shortages) of automotive chips are not expected to be solved in a short-term period," Moon said.

The minister added that South Korea will continue to make efforts to sign more free trade agreements to diversify its trade portfolio.

Asia's No. 4 economy awaits the launch of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which covers ASEAN and its dialogue partners. It plans to implement the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), an equivalent of a free trade agreement, with Indonesia as well.

ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam.

The minister added South Korea will also continue to review the joining of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) as part of its efforts to expand mega FTAs in the Asia-Pacific region.

"We will continue to review all possibilities by putting priority on (South Korea's) interests," Moon said.

CPTPP is the renegotiated version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) led by the Barack Obama administration but abandoned by former President Donald Trump.

colin@yna.co.kr
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