South Korean imports from Japan have risen amid easing of consumer boycott since summer of last year amid diplomatic and trade frictions.
[Graphics by Song Ji-yoon]
Korea’s trade deficit against Japan widened $16.56 billion in the January-October period this year from $16.42 billion a year earlier, according to the Korea International Trade Association on Thursday. Korea’s exports to Japan fell 13.0 percent on year to $20.63 billion, while imports fell smaller 7.3 percent on year to $37.19 billion.
Korea has incurred an annual deficit of $20 billion to $30 billion in trade with Japan since 2004. The red slipped to a 16-year low of $19.16 billion last year after South Koreans boycotted from beers to clothes from Japan in protest to Tokyo’s restrictions on Korea-bound shipments of key materials behind chip and display production.
Trade deficit has begun to widen in the second half this year as exports fell faster than imports.
Korea’s exports to Japan fell by more than 10 percent from June to October, while imports fall eased to single-digit 8.6 percent in September and 7.3 percent in October.
Korea’s demand for Japanese consumer goods has recovered. According to Japanese government’s data, Japan’s car exports to Korea jumped 90 percent on year in October. Such change was also seen in the Korea Automobile Import & Distributors Association’s data. In October, Lexus dealers in Korea sold 871 cars, up 91 percent on year. Toyota car sales in Korea also jumped 35.5 percent on year to 553 units.
Japanese brands have been moving aggressively to win back Korean consumers. Fashion label Uniqlo rolled out new line of clothes, designed in collaboration with world-famous artists. Beer companies have been lowering price tags.
Market watchers also expect the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the worlds’ largest free trade bloc, would help expand trades between Korea and Japan, once it takes effect next year. Earlier this month, Korea signed the RCEP pact with 14 other Asian-Pacific countries, including Japan.
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