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One of China's big four state-owned commercial banks has opened its fourth
branch in Seoul, in a bid to cater to the growing needs of business transactions
between South Korea and China, officials said Monday.
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd. (ICBC), the world's largest bank by profit and market capitalization, opened the new branch in the northeastern district of Gwangjin, where more than 12,000 Chinese people are estimated to reside.
"Gwangjin-gu is one of the main neighborhoods for Chinese residents in Seoul," said Chui Jiqia, head of the bank's South Korean operations.
"The newly set-up branch will further improve the service network of ICBC in South Korea."
ICBC entered the South Korean market by setting up a representative office in 1993, which was upgraded to a branch in 1997.
The Chinese bank's Busan branch and southwestern Seoul branch opened in 2002 and in 2010, respectively.
South Korea and China established diplomatic ties two decades ago and bilateral trade skyrocketed to US$220.6 billion last year from a meager $5 billion in 1992.
Their bilateral trade is expected to reach $300 billion by 2015.
China is the largest buyer of South Korean-made goods and has contributed to Seoul's sizable trade surplus in recent years, while South Korea is China's third-largest trading partner after the United States and Japan.
In May this year, Seoul and Beijing announced the launch of free trade talks, expecting the negotiations to be completed in two years.