Taipei, May 26 (CNA) Taiwan and South Korea should combine each other's strengths and cooperate further to reach a mutually beneficial situation in the economic field, a local official said Saturday.
"Taiwan and South Korea are geographically close to each other and share similar cultures and customs," Vice Economics Minister Francis Liang said at a seminar in Taipei aimed at promoting cooperation between the two sides.
"The two countries have developed strong economic and trade relations," he added.
Despite the gloomy global economy, Taiwan-South Korea bilateral trade totaled over US$30 billion in 2011, up 13 percent from the previous year, Liang noted.
Imports from South Korea grew 11.2 percent to US$17.8 billion in 2011, while Taiwan's exports to that country climbed 16 percent to US$12.3 billion, he added.
South Korea is Taiwan's fifth-largest trade partner, its sixth-largest export market and its fourth-largest import market, Liang said.
"We are competitors but we also cooperate with each other," he said.
Meanwhile, Chung Sang-ki, head of the Korean Mission in Taipei, echoed Liang's remarks, saying that the two countries have their strengths and rely on each other greatly in terms of trade.
In 2011, bilateral trade in the electronics industry exceeded US$12 billion, while the two-way steel trade reached US$1.1 billion, Chung said.
Given the fact that South Korea has signed free trade agreements with the United States and the European Union, Taiwanese companies can enjoy low to zero tariffs if they export to those areas through South Korean companies, while South Korean companies can export at reduced tariffs to China through Taiwanese companies thanks to a trade pact signed between Taiwan and China in 2010, said Chung.
The day-long event was attended by representatives from academia and the public and private sectors. A similar seminar is expected to take place in the South Korean capital of Seoul in November, according to National Chengchi University's Institute of International Relations, one of the organizers of the seminar.
(By James Lee)