Vietnam Becomes RoK’s Largest Trade Partner

The Republic of Korea (RoK) posted a trade surplus of over USD 34 billion with Vietnam in 2022, and with the figure, Vietnam has become the largest trade partner of the RoK for the first time

Vietnam Becomes RoK's Largest Trade Partner
Ambassador of Vietnam in the RoK Nguyen Vu Tung speaks at the the opening of the office of Vietnamese Association in Jeonnam-Gwangju. Photo courtesy of the association

With the Republic of Korea (RoK)’s trade surplus with Vietnam reaching USD 34.26 billion, Vietnam has become the Republic of Korea’s largest trade surplus partner for the first time when the latter enjoyed a trade surplus of USD 34.26 billion with the former in 2022, VOV citied the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE).

The RoK’s export and import turnover to the Vietnamese market last year reached USD 60.98 billion and USD 26.72 billion, respectively.

A MOTIE official pointed out that among ASEAN member states, Vietnam has emerged as an attractive production base for global companies.

Furthermore, firms from the RoK have consistently poured investment into the Vietnamese market, a factor which has led to both countries becoming each other’s close economic partners and turning the Southeast Asian nation into a top surplus partner of the RoK.

Besides Vietnam, the RoK has also recorded a large trade surplus with other countries, including the United States fetching USD 28.04 billion, Hong Kong (China) USD 25.79 billion, India USD 9.98 billion, and Singapore USD 9.86 billion.

Last year saw the RoK’s export turnover hit a record high of USD 683.9 billion, the sixth largest in the world.

However, the RoK’s imports also skyrocketed amid high energy prices caused by the impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, thereby making the country rack up a trade deficit of up to USD 47.2 billion.

Since their diplomatic ties were set up in 1992, the two countries have recorded flourishing links with breakthroughs in economic and people-to-people exchanges, according to VNA.

Bilateral judicial, educational, agricultural and sci-tech cooperation has also yielded fruits over the past years.

The two countries had agreed to upgrade their ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership during President Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s visit to the RoK in December 2022.

Vietnam Becomes RoK's Largest Trade Partner
Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc (L) and RoK President Yoon Suk-yeol. Photo: VNA

On the back of the Vietnam-Korea Free Trade Agreement (VKFTA) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the two countries are looking toward USD 100 billion in bilateral trade next year and USD 150 billion by 2030, by creating favourable conditions for Vietnam’s exports of agro-aquatic products and seasonal fruits.

Vietnam is the second biggest source of guest workers to the RoK, behind China, while the RoK was the second largest recipient of Vietnamese guest workers, behind Taiwan (China). At present, about 48,000 Vietnamese labourers are working in the RoK.

For years, Vietnam and the RoK have always been important tourism partners. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, in 2019, Vietnam welcomed more than 4.3 million Korean visitors, a year-over-year increase of 23.1%. The RoK was the largest foreign visitor source of Vietnam.

Meanwhile, in 2019, the RoK also welcomed more than 550,000 Vietnamese tourists, an increase of 21.4% compared to 2018.

In the first 11 months of 2022, more than 160,000 Vietnamese tourists visited the RoK, and more than 567,000 Korean tourists came to Vietnam, making the RoK continue to be the largest international visitor market of Vietnam.

Vietnam also was the first country selected by the RoK to implement its strategy of supporting countries that are improving their agricultural production.

With an area of over 1.2 hectares, the Korea-Vietnam smart farm is located at the Vietnam Academy of Agriculture.

The construction of the Korea-Vietnam smart farm commenced in December 2021, and all equipment and machinery were transported from the RoK.

Hannah Nguyen