SEOUL, March 19 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s outbound shipments of medical products to the European Union (EU) more than doubled on-year in 2020, data showed Friday, with Seoul seeking to further expand exchanges with the EU to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

Exports of pharmaceutical products and medical instruments came to US$4.67 billion in 2020, rising sharply from $2.29 billion posted a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. Over the period, the combined exports to the bloc edged down 1.2 percent on the pandemic fallout.

Trade and medical officials from South Korea, meanwhile, held a virtual meeting with European counterparts on the day, in which they vowed to make joint efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the gathering, South Korea requested the EU further develop an ad hoc agreement on the exchange of medical information signed last year into an official pact.

In June, South Korea and the EU clinched a confidentiality agreement that centers on seeking “mutual exchange of information on medicines used for the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of COVID-19 and related infectious diseases.”

South Korea asked the EU to lend a hand for the prompt shipment of vaccines produced in Europe without delay.

The government previously secured COVID-19 vaccines to inoculate 56 million people under the World Health Organization’s global vaccine COVAX Facility project and separate contracts with four foreign drug firms. The local inoculation program kicked off in February.

Seoul, meanwhile, requested the European authority to make efforts for accepting KF94, a locally made mask that offers a high-quality filter, on the list of approved products. Some countries and regions still do not recognize the KF94 as an effective model.