SEOUL, July 30 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has reported a surplus in trade with countries with which it signed free trade pacts, data showed Thursday, in a sign that such deals help Seoul cushion the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the data by the Korea Customs Service (KCS), South Korea posted a surplus of US$19.9 billion in trade with such countries in the first half of this year.
In comparison, South Korea reported a deficit of $9.1 billion in trade with countries with which it doesn't have such deals.
Total trade volume between South Korea and countries with which it signed free trade deals fell 6.8 percent in the first half, according to the data.
But the volume between South Korea and countries with which it doesn't have such deals dropped by a shaper margin of 17.4 percent in the first half.
Free trade deals have a "buffer role" for South Korea to minimize the pandemic's impact on trade, the KCS said.
South Korea has implemented or struck 18 sets of free trade deals with 58 countries as of November last year.
Asia's fourth-largest economy has been ramping up efforts to expand its free trade agreement networks to overcome the economic jitters sparked by the new coronavirus pandemic.
The move came amid concerns that the pandemic is putting strains on the nation's economy as it depends heavily on exports.
South Korea's exports fell 10.9 percent in June, marking the fourth consecutive month of decline. The country's outbound shipments already suffered from the Sino-American trade war in 2019.
Exports dropped 12.8 percent on-year in the first 20 days of July as well.