New data from the Korean government reports a significant increase in trade volume between Korea and the United States since a bilateral trade agreement was put in place in 2012. According to the report, that increase has been more than 32 percent under the agreement, totaling more than $135 billion in 2019. That’s compared to $101 billion in 2012.

The trade volume between the two countries increased by 2.7 percent last year compared to 2018. While that might seem modest, it is actually a significant achievement in light of Korea’s overall performance last year, which saw a global decline of 8.3 percent over the same period, the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy reported.

Korea saw a dip of over 10 percent in combined outbound shipments in 2019, the Ministry reported. Much of the decrease was due to factors outside of Korea’s control, including growing protectionism across the globe as well as the declining price of memory chips, which has traditionally been one of its top exports.

Even in the rough times of 2019, South Korea saw an increase in exports to the U.S., demonstrating the strength of the relationship and the benefits of a strong trade agreement. Korea’s U.S. exports rose nearly one percent last year.

Two of the most successful Korean industries were also the major winners from the bilateral trade agreement during the 2012-2019 period: automakers and chip manufacturers. Automobile exports to the U.S. were up nearly 50 percent since 2012, reaching nearly $16 billion last year. The global export of chips, meanwhile, more than doubled over that time period, to $5.95 billion.

These trade successes allowed Korea to take advantage of an $11.4-billion trade surplus in 2019. While this is lower than the previous year, it reflects a strong trading position given other economic factors in 2019.