Korea looking to boost Southeast Asia exports

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Korea looking to boost Southeast Asia exports

The Korean government said Monday it seeks to expand its outbound shipments of agricultural goods by 6.7 percent to reach 8.7 trillion won ($7.5 billion) in 2020, by diversifying its product portfolio and penetrating deeper into Southeast Asia and other emerging markets.

In 2019, exports of agricultural goods reached 8.1 trillion won, compared to $8 trillion won a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Last year, South Korea’s overall exports slipped 10.3 percent amid growing protectionism around the globe.

Outbound shipments of fresh goods experienced especially high growth, rising 8.3 percent on-year to hit 1.5 trillion won in 2019, beating the previous annual record of 1.5 trillion won posted a year earlier.

Shipments of processed foods, on the other hand, fell 0.1 percent over the period to 6.5 trillion won.

This year, South Korea said it will focus efforts to further promote exports of agricultural products, fostering them as new growth engines for the country’s economy.

In line with those efforts, the ministry said it plans to beef up the overseas sales of grapes and strawberries, making them join the so-called “$100 million export club” within the next five years.

Last year, only three food exports - ginseng, kimchi and processed rice products - reached that threshold.

Exports of grapes and strawberries reached 27.2 billion won and 63.1 billion won in 2019, growing a whopping 64.4 percent and 14.7 percent on-year, respectively.

South Korea also plans to forge deeper ties with emerging economies in order to revamp its export portfolio, which currently depends heavily on Japan, China and the United States.

Outbound shipments to Japan, meanwhile, moved up 7.8 percent on-year in 2019 to 1.6 trillion won, despite the monthslong trade dispute between Seoul and Tokyo. Exports to the United States climbed 9 percent to 1 trillion won over the period.

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