China's anger at South Korea for deciding to deploy a U.S. missile shield has officials in Seoul increasingly concerned about the risk of economic retaliation.

While they do not expect China to hit back directly by slapping tariffs on South Korean goods — which would create problems for Beijing with the World Trade Organization — some see a risk that their larger neighbor may tighten customs inspections, enforce stricter certification requirements and increase bureaucratic obstacles.

The Korea International Trade Association, an influential business lobby group, has identified 26 measures already in place by China that hurt its members. Any expansion of these will be particularly damaging now, with exports falling for the last 19 months straight amid broad-based slowdown in global economic growth.