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South Korean Prez Yoon to reduce reliance on Chinese imports

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Seoul | May 22, 2022 6:23:53 PM IST
South Korea under the leadership of the newly elected President Yoon Suk-yeol is all set to diversify the country's imports, reduce its dependence on China and forge closer ties with a range of economies in the Indo-Pacific.

Currently, China is by far South Korea's largest trading partner which accounts for 25 per cent of total trade last year. This is followed by the US' share of 15 per cent, reported Malaysia-based news portal The Star.

According to the media portal, Yoon's new conservative administration is seen to be more aggressive towards China as far as its foreign policy is concerned.

A high-level presidential aide during a briefing on Thursday was quoted by the South Korean media as saying, "We need to diversify imports," and added, "We need supply chain alliances."

Following the coronavirus pandemic, every country is now scurrying to secure their supply chains for essential goods and critical materials.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the presidential aide said, "It is an era where it has become important to build capacity to manage supply chains on a national level." "The government will manage the supply chain which is core to the idea of economic security," the aide added.

As per the available data, South Korea is presently heavily reliant on China for its imports. Data from the Korea International Trade Association showed that in the first three quarters of last year, 3,941 out of 12,586 items that South Korea imported had a minimum 80 per cent dependency on a particular country.

Some 1,850 items, or almost half, had at least an 80 per cent dependency on China, reported the media portal. Kim Ba-woo, a senior researcher at the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade said, "Whether it be rare earth or noble gas - there are sufficient reserves elsewhere outside China."

In another mover to stride away from China, South Korea is planning to make formal application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). This trade bloc includes signatories that span economies in North and South America, as well as countries in the Asia-Pacific.

According to a US think tank, South Korea will gain immensely from the trade bloc. The gains are estimated to be USD 86 billion annually. South Korea will also increase economic cooperation with countries in Southeast Asia after joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which went into effect in January.

Yoon's Presidentship in South Korea has raised numerous questions about the future ties between Seoul and Beijing. He has taken a harder stance on China than his predecessor Moon Jae-in. (ANI)

 
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