Korea’s imports of wines from the United States and Europe surged on free trade deals with the two major economies despite an economic slump here, industry data showed Monday.
According to the data by the Korea Wines & Spirits Importers Association, imports of American wines during the January-July period rose 19.4 percent from a year earlier to $8.63 million.
Wine imports from Spain and Germany jumped 19.7 percent and 19.9 percent, respectively, on-year over the same period, while the amount of imported German wines surged 28.9 percent on-year.
Korea bought 1.73 million liters of French wines over the seven-month period, down 10.1 percent on-year, but the value of the imported French liquor rose 9.8 percent to $23.85 million.
Korea’s free trade agreement with the European Union took effect in July last year, with the Seoul-Washington pact implemented in March this year.
“Expensive French wines are still in high demand here, but importers turned their eyes to other countries under the FTA effect to buy cheaper ones,” said an industry official.
Market insiders said wines from the U.S. and European countries also saw their market shares gain ground in the Korean market, as they benefited from the FTAs.
Imports of Chilean wines fell 3.5 percent on-year, with a market share of 21.7 percent as of July, down from 24.1 percent from a year ago. Korea also signed a free trade deal with Chile, which was implemented in 2004.
French wines, however, had a market share of 30.5 percent as of July, up from 29.7 percent a year earlier, and U.S. wines took up 9.9 percent from 11 percent, according to the data.
“Thanks to tariff cuts under the FTAs, prices of European and American wines lowered by some 10 percent, and a growing number of Korea customers have been tasting a variety of new wines from different countries,” said the official. (Yonhap News)