US SMEs expanding into South Korea are set to benefit from a new government-sponsored help centre, which aims to demystify challenges related to the Korean market.

The US-South Korea SME centre comes as part of a first-of-its-kind memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the US Department of Commerce’s international trade administration (ITA) and the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea (Amcham Korea).

The MOA is unique for ITA as it’s the first such agreement to be signed with a foreign-based American Chamber of Commerce with a specific focus on SME exporters.

The new centre will become a one-stop-shop for supporting US businesses with on-the-ground resources for information and solutions related to local law, marketing, government procurement and trade missions.

South Korea is currently the sixth-largest trading partner in goods to the US, and second only to China in Asia Pacific. According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, total goods traded between the two nations was valued at US$120bn in 2017. Goods sent to Korea totalled US$48bn, while goods to the US reached US$71bn, meaning the US held a US$23bn trade deficit for the year.

According to ITA, the MOA lays the groundwork for advancing a sustained increase in the number of US SMEs exporting to South Korea and the overall volume of bilateral trade.

Commenting on the agreement, James Kim, Amcham Korea chairman and CEO, says: “There is tremendous potential for US SMEs to play a bigger role in job creation, economic growth, and innovation in both countries and contribute to more balanced bilateral trade.”

Amcham Korea has set a target of helping 300 companies through the centre in its first year. ITA and Amcham Korea were unable to confirm exactly when the centre will open its doors.

Amcham Korea was formed in 1953 with the mission to support US companies in South Korea and facilitate South Korean companies’ investment into the US.

ITA has connections with 75 global markets and works to help US organisations compete on the international stage.