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Vietnam overtakes China as top market for Korean textiles
Jul '14
The Southeast Asian nation of Vietnam has overtaken China as the largest market for textiles manufactured in South Korea, according to a report released by the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade (KIET), reports Yonhap news agency.
In the January-May 2014 period, Vietnam accounted for 16.5 percent of South Korea’s total textile exports, overtaking China, which contributed 15.6 percent share in overall textile exports. Thus, Vietnam has for the first time become the largest export destination for South Korean textiles, the report said.
However, China continues to be an attractive market with considerable growth potential for Korean textiles, KIET said in its report.
During the first five months of 2014, South Korea exported US$ 1.04 billion worth of textiles and clothing to China, while the country imported goods valued at $2.47 billion, resulting in textile trade deficit of $1.43 billion, KIET report showed.
South Korea has continuously logged a trade deficit in its textile trade with China since 2002. One of the reasons for this deficit is the transfer of production centres by South Korean manufacturers to China in the past, and now to Southeast Asian region. On the other hand, there is steady inflow of Chinese textiles and clothing into the Korean local market.
The report suggests that instead of shipping textiles and materials, South Korean companies should focus on exporting finished goods.
According to KIET, China’s apparel and clothing accessories market stood at 291 trillion won (about $286.8 billion) in 2012, growing at 10 percent year-on-year, and is expected to become a 435 trillion won market by 2017, rising at an annual average rate of 8-9 percent.
To capture a greater pie of this large Chinese market, of particular importance would be a South Korea-China free trade pact, as it would enable South Korean goods to enter the Chinese market without paying the 20-30 percent tariff that is currently applicable on all clothing items, KIET said.

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