By Publisher Lee Kyung-sik, Managing Editor Kevin Lee, Business Editor You Min-yul
President Yoon Suk-yeol of the Republic of Korea stated on Aug. 24, 2022, “Korea and China should try to strengthen and increase their relations and cooperation in the economic and security areas, especially though expansion of the network of supplies.”
Speaking on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and China, Yoon also expressed his desire to meet with his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping of China.
Prime Minister Li Keqiang of China on that day also called for an undecayed progress in the follow-up Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with Korea as he described the two countries as ‘Inseparable’ neighbors who should work together to defend the bilateral supply chain stability.
According to a Yonhap News Agency report on that day, Prime Minister Li's remarks came at a time when Korea has been striving to maintain her economic partnership with China who is Korea’s largest trading partner.
Li said in a speech, "China and Korea are neighbors and inseparable partners and we must maintain mutual trust and be at peace with each other." His speech was delivered via virtual links during a Seoul-based business forum to mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations.
According to the Yonhap Report, Li said, "I hope that both sides pursue safe development and promote regional peace by keeping equality, and considering each other's core interests and important matters.” Then added Li, “And I hope that the second phase negotiations for the China-Korea FTA will swiftly be concluded."
Working-level talks have been under way between Korea and China on expanding the FTA to include the opening up of markets to service and investment sectors. The Korea-China FTA went into effect in December 2015, with the removal of major tariffs.
Highlighting the importance of friendly win-win cooperation, Prime Minister Li proposed deepening the partnership in areas including advanced manufacturing, digital and green economy and climate change.
Li also emphasized ‘openness’ and ‘inclusion’ as principles that countries should adhere to.
Then emphasized that the two countries must uphold multilateralism and direction of economic globalization and defend stability of supply chains.
Li emphasized that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a mega trade pact involving China, South Korea and ASEAN, will be a new driving force for the development and prosperity of the region.
Li's remarks were followed by a speech by Prime Minister Han Duck-soo of Korea who gave an online speech in which he called for efforts to strengthen substantive bilateral cooperation in economic and other international affairs.
Prime Minister Han emphasized, “The bilateral trade volume hit a record high of US$300 billion last year, a nearly 50-fold increase compared with when diplomatic ties were established.” Then he said, "While expanding the practical cooperation, the cooperation on international issues, such as global supply chain stability and climate change, should also be further strengthened."
Ranking participants in the event included Ambassador to China Ambassador Chung Jae-ho of Korea in China, Ambassador Xing Haiming of China in Seoul and Chairman Chey Tae-won of the SK Business Group, who concurrently heads the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry as chairman.
Korea-China relations especially stand out in the area of trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.
According to various news sources in Korea, in July 2022 China exported US$14.3 billion worth of goods and imported US$16.8 billion worth of goods from South Korea, which resulted in a negative trade balance of US$2.49 billion. Between July 2021 and July 2022, exports of China have increased by US$1.9 billion (15.3%) from US$12.4 billion to US$14.3 billion, while imports decreased by minus US$146 million (-0.86%) from US$16.9 billion to US$16.8 billion.