South Korea is one of the primary destination markets for Chilean food products. One milestone in this important relationship was the negotiation of the first Free Trade Agreement between the two countries in 2004, the first Chile signed with an Asian country. In 2021, South Korea positioned itself as Chile’s sixth trading partner and the second destination market for Chilean pork.

On April 18th, the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Chile and South Korea was celebrated, a period during which long-term trust has been established in both the political and commercial spheres.

In 2021, South Korea positioned itself as Chile’s sixth trading partner, with an exchange of more than 6.5 billion dollars. For Chilean pork, South Korea is the second destination market, with 146 million dollars in exports in 2021, 35% higher than in 2020, representing 18% of total pork exports. For South Korea, Chile is the fourth pork supplier after the United States, Spain, and Canada.

During this journey to strengthen the political and commercial relationship, there have been many milestones, such as the negotiation of the first bilateral Free Trade Agreement signed in 2004, the first in South Korea’s trade history and Chile’s first with an Asian country.

“Since then, the effort to introduce products in the South Korean market has not stopped, and this is why key products from our export basket have entered that market with great success. One of this products is certainly pork, which is preferred by the South Korean people (…) Both countries’ health authorities have played a leading role in providing the framework for our pork exports to arrive in excellent condition and in a timely manner to South Korean consumers. Additionally, the Chilean companies, ChilePork and ProChile (the Chilean Exports Promotion Bureau), have worked together to promote and highlight the attributes of our product, allowing new consumers to taste this delicious meat,” said José Miguel Sepúlveda, Chile’s Commercial and Agricultural Attaché in South Korea.

“We appreciate the trust and the long-term relationship that we have built with our importers as ChilePork. South Korea is one of the main destinations for Chilean pork, as they value the fact that our exporting companies have control over their entire production chain, providing consumers 100% traceable, healthy, and safe meat with a unique quality standard,” noted Juan Carlos Domínguez, President of ChileCarne.

Consumers appreciate that the product has been in the South Korean market for many years, which is why, thanks to its high quality, it is expected for consumers to continue opting for this product over a local substitute lower in cost.

Currently, Chile’s Agricultural and Commercial Office in South Korea and the Chilean private sector are working to maintain the level of Chilean exports. During the years of the pandemic, trade facilitation tools were developed, such as the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for electronic certification of livestock products between Chile (SAG) and South Korea (MFDS), which is currently in the pilot stage. This measure is key to preserving the competitiveness of the Chilean industry, as importers will prefer doing business with countries that use tools that make cargo clearance more expedited.

In the short and medium term, there are various initiatives that the Chilean public and private sectors must implement together. One of them is to coordinate and be aware of the impact in trade of new regulations on carbon neutrality and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These regulations will have a high impact on exports and logistics will become a key aspect to competing in Asian markets with Chilean products.

“It should be noted that South Korea is very interested in joining the CPTPP-11, which was ratified by the South Korean government last April. Chile is a member of the agreement, but its ratification is still pending. This is a trade policy issue that must be considered by higher authorities. Another initiative is the entry of South Korea into the Trade Agreement of the Pacific Alliance. The Republic of Korea is very interested in participating in this agreement and will soon open negotiations with the four members of the Alliance (Colombia, Chile, Mexico, and Peru). These instances offer opportunities to improve disciplines, update and reaffirm commitments, and improve access to our products. This is why it is important,” concluded Sepúlveda.