As the world economy recovered from the first oil shock in 1973, Korea’s exports grew rapidly, recording its first trade surplus of 300 million dollars with the U.S. in 1982. Korea’s trade surplus with the U.S. reached 9.6 billion dollars in 1987.
Table 4-12. Korea’s trade surplus (1982-1987)
In contrast, the U.S. was burdened by financial and trade deficits. During the 1980s and 1990s, the U.S. trade deficits spawned worries about unfair foreign trade barriers, lost jobs, and America’s ability to compete in the global market. As a result, the Section 301 provisions of 1974 and the 1988 Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act were passed by the U.S. Congress.
As part of its efforts to avoid a possible U.S. designation of Korea as a “priority” foreign country suspected of engaging in unfair trade practices, the Korean government announced in 1988 a three-year market opening schedule (1989-1991) to liberalize imports of 243 agricultural, forestry and fishery products.
Source : SaKong, Il and Koh, Youngsun, 2010. The Korean Economy Six Decades of Growth and Development. Seoul: Korea Development Institute.