Exports, imports of tobacco reach record high

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Exports, imports of tobacco reach record high

Korean exports of tobacco products reached an all-time high last year. Imports broke records, too.

Tobacco exports rose 11.1 percent from a year earlier to $1.01 billion, the Korea Customs Service said Wednesday. The United Arab Emirates was the biggest buyer, accounting for 36.9 percent all tobacco goods exported, followed by Japan with 14.1 percent and the United States with 10.3 percent.

The customs agency said exports to the United Arab Emirates and Japan continue to rise as Korean cigarettes remain very popular there.

“Japan was only the ninth-biggest importer of Korean tobacco products in 2012, but it has become the second-largest importer since 2014,” said Kim Yoon-sik, a director at the customs agency. “Tobacco exports to Japan have risen 61.9 percent a year on average for the past four years.”

Korean imports of tobacco products recorded $410 million.

As demand for cigarettes shows no sign of abating in Korea, sales of cigarette cases have also jumped after the government began mandating graphic warning labels on packaging to warn smokers of health dangers. On eBay Korea, sales of cases jumped nearly threefold in January compared to December, when the government began mandating the labels.

Ticket Monster, an online shopping site, said sales of cases between Dec. 23 and Feb. 2 rose more than five times compared to the same period last year. A company representative said customers were buying the cases because they were “disgusted” by the graphic warning labels on cigarette cartons.

BY KIM YOUNG-NAM [kim.youngnam@joongang.co.kr]
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