South Korea enjoyed a surplus of US$71.5 billion in trade with free trade agreement (FTAs) partners in 2019, data showed Thursday.
The country suffered a deficit of $32.4 billion from trade with non-FTA partners, according to the data compiled by the Korea Customs Service. Last year, South Korea posted a trade surplus for the 11th consecutive year at $39.1 billion.
Outbound shipments to FTA partners also decreased at a slower pace of 9.2 percent on-year to $398.4 billion in 2019, compared with the decline of 10.3 percent in overall outbound shipments for the year.
As of last year, South Korea held 13 different FTAs with various countries or regional blocs, such as the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
South Korea especially enjoyed the highest trade surplus of $38.9 billion in trade with ASEAN.
More than 95 percent of South Korean goods shipped to Canada, meanwhile, received benefits of the bilateral FTA, with the EU posting a comparable figure of 86.9 percent, followed by the United States with 85.2 percent, according to the data.
Around 99 percent of imports from Chile received preferential treatment under the bilateral trade pact, followed by New Zealand with 93.7 percent, the data also showed.
South Korea has been making efforts to diversify its trade portfolio, mainly to ease its heavy dependence on the U.S. and China, which account for 40 percent of its combined exports.
Such an imbalanced portfolio has made South Korea one of the major victims of the Sino-American trade war.
The country's exports are expected to rebound 3 percent this year, on the back of the recovery of the global chip industry, after suffering a decline of more than 10 percent last year.