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The US beat out China as South Korea's top export market for the first time in 2 decades

Phil Rosen   

The US beat out China as South Korea's top export market for the first time in 2 decades
  • South Korea's exports to the US exceeded those to China in December for the first time in 20 years, per Bloomberg.
  • South Korean goods sent to the US totaled $11.3 billion in December, versus $10.9 billion to China.

South Korea exported more goods to the US than China in December for the first time since 2003.

Bloomberg data shows that last month, the US imported $11.3 billion worth of goods from South Korea. Meanwhile, China imported $10.9 billion, according to the country's trade ministry.

While the numbers reflect a change of just one month, and may not indicate lasting trends, they point to shifting trade flows amid changes in the geopolitical landscape and China's ongoing economic hurdles since reopening its economy after the pandemic.

China remains South Korea's largest overall trading partner.

Policymakers in Beijing have been weighing various stimulus measures to prop up the country's economy, and the Conference Board anticipates more economic headwinds to come in 2024.

"So far, the government has refrained from implementing a broad-based stimulus package," the Conference Board's China Center said in its 2024 outlook. "Still, over the past months, the government has been stepping up monetary and fiscal measures to stimulate 'targeted' investment, especially in infrastructure for flood recovery and disaster prevention. As a result, while the strong recovery blip seen in 2023 Q3 will dissipate, growth in 2024 is likely to remain stable."

The US, for its part, saw shipments from South Korea increase for a fifth consecutive month year-over-year, per Bloomberg data.

President Yoon Suk Yeol has been deepening ties with the US amid trips to Washington and meetings with American lawmakers. Meanwhile, the Biden Administration has pushed to reduce dependency on China in business and technology, with an emphasis on semiconductors in particular.

China, in turn, is reportedly ramping up spending on chip production for AI and smartphones.




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