Bottled water paces wave of 2013 imports

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Bottled water paces wave of 2013 imports

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Which imported item saw the biggest increase last year?

According to the Korea Customs Service yesterday, bottled water. Other items with significant increases were automobiles and watches, while coffee imports fell.

In a survey of 10 consumer products shipped into Korea, bottled water surged 175.4 percent to $25 million. The biggest share was from China (55.2 percent, $13.7 million), followed by France (29.1 percent, $7.2 million).

Automobiles retained their No. 1 value ranking, increasing nearly 22 percent year-on-year to $5.5 billion.

Last year, German auto imports continued to thrive, growing15.9 percent from a year earlier to $3.2 billion. German cars accounted for 58.1 percent of all imported foreign brands.

However, Japanese cars reported the biggest year-on-year increase, up 66.2 percent to $751 million and accounting for 13.7 percent of all imported cars.

The customs office noted that, although number of U.S. cars entering Korea continues to grow thanks to the bilateral free trade agreement between the two countries that went into effect two years ago, Japanese brands’ competitiveness have been improving lately.

Watches were other imported items that saw a substantial growth last year.

They posted the third-largest year-on-year growth after bottled water and automobiles, with growth of 12 percent to $284 million.

The customs office noted that although watches have lost some ground due to the wide use of smartphones, they continue to see a significant growth as fashion accessories or gifts.

It has long been a custom in Korean wedding culture for the bride’s family to purchase high-end wristwatches for the newlyweds.

Swiss watches represented 98.4 percent of all watches that entered Korea last year. France was a distant second at 0.8 percent, followed by Chinese watches at 0.3 percent.

Imports of foreign cigarettes ranked fourth in year-on-year growth.

Meanwhile, coffee saw the biggest drop among the 10 items. It fell 15.9 percent year-on-year to $502 million, continuing a three-year decline.

Coffee from Brazil, Vietnam and Colombia accounted for the most imports.

The consumer products that were studied, however, were less than 2 percent of total imports. Last year, imports exceeded $515.6 billion.

BY lee ho-jeong [ojlee82@joongang.co.kr]


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