South Korea’s trade with Latin America roared ahead in 2011, up 22 percent to reach a record $53.9 billion, according to Korean government data analyzed by Latin Business Chronicle.
Korea was again clear winner in trade with the region. In 2011, the country sold twice as much to Latin America as it purchased, supplying such goods as automobiles, electronics, home appliances and petroleum products. Close to 61 percent of its exports went to Mexico and Brazil, where it operates factories making cars, electronics and other goods. Its purchases from the Latin American region included metals, agricultural products, fish and other basics. South Korean exports were close to $35 billion, an 18 percent increase over 2010.
In dollar terms, Korea’s biggest growth last year came with Brazil and Peru. The first one is a priority market for the Asian tiger and its top trade partner in Latin America. Korea sold $11 billion to Brazil, up a striking 53 percent. It bought $6.3 billion from Brazil, up a significant 35 percent. Some of that surge was linked to greater Korean investment in Brazil. Trade with Peru also soared as the two countries signed an FTA in 2011. Korea exported $1.4 billion to Peru, a 45 percent increase over 2010, and bought close to $2 billion, a very significant 88 percent increase over the year.
As expected, Korea sold more cars, which before the FTA paid a 9 percent duty to enter Peru. Peruvians boosted their exports of metals, fish, coffee and textiles to Korea, Asia’s fourth largest economy and home to 50 million people.
Korea lost some ground in markets like Chile, which reduced its imports by 19 percent, Panama a 6 percent reduction and Venezuela with an almost 5 percent drop. It increased its share of the market in Costa Rica where imports grew 62 percent over the year, El Salvador 59 percent and Paraguay 53 percent.