(Tokyo Shimbun: March 24, 2015 – p. 6)
SEOUL (Kyodo) – South Korea saw the proportion of its trade with Japan in 2014 drop to an all-time low since 1965 when Japan and South Korea normalized their diplomatic relations. This was learned on March 23 from statistics released by the Korea International Trade Association.
South Korea’s biggest trade partner is China, highlighting Japan’s weakening economic presence in South Korea.
South Korea’s imports from Japan last year dropped 10.4% from 2013 to about $53.768 billion, which was 10.2% of the country’s total imports. Meanwhile, South Korea’s exports to Japan decreased by 7.2% from 2013 to about $32.183 billion, which accounted for 5.6% of the country’s total overseas shipments.
South Korea’s imports from Japan accounted for about 40% of its total imports immediately after the normalization of diplomatic ties between the two countries. Also, South Korea’s exports to Japan totaled 38% of the country’s entire exports in 1973. Since then, South Korea’s exports to Japan have declined and the promotion of its exports to Japan has remained flat at the single digit level since 2002.
Although South Korea has concluded free trade agreements with the United States and European Union, there is a lack of willingness on the South Korean side to conclude an economic partnership agreement with Japan. In recent years, South Korea’s exports to China have accounted for 25% of its total exports.
Meanwhile, the number of Japanese people who visit South Korea for sightseeing has declined. According to the Korea Tourism Organization, the number of Japanese tourists who visited South Korea in 2014 dropped by 17% from the previous year to about 2.28 million. The organization said that the primary reason for the drop was the “deterioration of South Korea’s image” in Japan.
However, the number of South Korean tourists visiting Japan increased by 12% from the previous year to about 2.75 million, which shows that South Koreans’ feelings about Japan have not seriously deteriorated.
The number of Japanese tourists who visited South Korea was the highest of all the foreigners who visited South Korea until 2012, but since 2013 the number of Chinese tourists has been the highest.