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Imports of Japanese tobacco, beer, automobiles plummet amid boycott


South Korea’s inbound shipments of Japanese consumer goods -- especially tobacco, beer and automobiles shrank considerably in July -- amid the continuing nationwide boycott, data showed Monday.

The boycott spread like wildfire across the country since July last year, when Japan said it would regulate exports of three key materials needed for Asia’s fourth-largest economy’s chip and display manufacturing.

The nation’s import of Japanese goods overall dropped 23.4 percent on-year to $253 million last month, preliminary data from the Korea Customs Service acquired by a lawmaker here showed.

By imported goods, imports of Japanese beer shrank drastically, shedding 84.2 percent on-year to $685,000 in July.

Korea was Japan’s biggest overseas market for beer until 2018, but related beer imports fell 49.2 percent on-year to $39.7 million in 2019, separate customs data showed. The corresponding figure for 2018 came to $78.3 million, making Korea the No. 1 market in terms of market share for Japan’s overseas beer brands and nearly double the amount of China, which was No. 2 at the time with $40.9 million.

Tobacco imports from Japan declined 89 percent to $6,000 in the same period.

Imports of autos halved by 52 percent on-year to $52.35 million last month. Those in the range of engine capacity of 2 to 3 liters saw the sharpest decline of 72.6 percent, with cars with 1.5- to 2-liter-capacity and hybrid each shedding 61.3 percent and 40 percent, respectively.

As per the data, Nissan announced in June it plans to withdraw its operations from Korea by December, citing deteriorating business environment amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Inbound shipments of Japanese cosmetics, beauty devices, and electronic goods were also dealt with hard blows.

However, imports of Japanese motorcycles jumped 229 percent on-year to $5.37 million, while inbound shipments of pet feed and golf clubs surged 79 percent and 61 percent, respectively, in the cited period.

By Jung Min-kyung (