SEOUL, Jan. 26 (Yonhap) — South Korea posted a trade surplus of more than US$60 billion with its free trade agreement (FTA) partners last year amid the pandemic, data showed Tuesday.

The country’s exports to FTA partners fell 3.9 percent on-year to $383.1 billion and imports declined 1.3 percent to $323 billion, according to the data compiled by the Korea Customs Service.

This resulted in a trade surplus of $60.3 billion last year, down 15.7 percent from a year earlier.

In contrast, South Korea posted a trade deficit of $15 billion with non-FTA partners, the data showed.

The customs agency said the country’s trade with FTA partners fared relatively well despite economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

South Korea registered the largest trade surplus of $34.2 billion with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members last year, followed by China with a surplus of $23.7 billion.

The country’s trade volume with countries with FTA deals declined 2.7 percent on-year to $706 billion last year amid the pandemic. But the fall was smaller than a 6.2 percent on-year drop in the country’s overall trade volume, the data showed.

South Korea currently has FTAs with 17 countries or regional blocs, including the United States, the European Union (EU) and ASEAN.

The country’s overseas shipments, which account for half of the South Korean economy, fell 5.4 percent on-year in 2020 due to the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the trade ministry.

On a monthly basis, the pace of the slump has eased since June last year, as the country’s exports of chips and autos remained firm following major economies’ lifting of months of border lockdowns.