SEOUL, April 20 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s trade ministry said Tuesday it plans to cooperate with major trade partners to cope with the growing number of technology barriers in the global market.

Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) issued 1,023 technical barriers to trade (TBT) over the January-March period, up 7 percent from a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

TBTs, which include consumer safety standards, energy and environmental requirements, are often used as non-tariff restrictions on exports.

The sharp increase in technical trade barriers came as more countries rolled out regulations on electronic products and daily supplies, with China, Seoul’s top trading partner, also sharply increasing the number of its restrictions.

Exporters especially faced more regulations in the food and pharmaceutical sectors amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of the barriers reported, the ministry said 33 cases were considered to have direct impacts on South Korean exports.

South Korea said it has been making efforts to negotiate with trade partners to lower the barriers via the WTO and free trade agreement committees.

South Korea’s exports, meanwhile, hit a record high in the first quarter as shipments of chips and autos remained robust amid the pandemic. Exports amounted to US$146.5 billion in the January-March period, up 12.5 percent from a year earlier, according to the Korea Customs Service.