(MENAFN - Qatar News Agency) A weak yen hurt South Korean consumer goods exports to Japan and influenced bilateral tourism trends last year, a report by an international traders association showed Sunday. According to the Korea International Trade Association (KITA), consumer goods exports to Japan dropped 13.1 percent on-year in 2013 to US4.85 billion, from 5.59 billion tallied a year earlier, while imports from Japan reached 2.71 billion, a more modest 4.2 percent dip from the year before. "Both numbers contracted, but South Korean exports fell more sharply, while the rate of decline for Japanese goods actually decreased," the association said. In 2012, Japan's exports of consumer goods to South Korea fell 7.4 percent on-year to 2.83 billion. The move reduced the South Korean trade surplus in consumer goods from 2.76 billion in 2012 to 2.14 billion last year.
The development comes as the Korean won appreciated 25.7 percent against the Japanese currency last year compared to 2012, which effectively weakened the price competitiveness of locally made products in the world's third-largest economy.
Citing an example, exports of tuna and gasoline-engine cars with an engine displacement of over 1.5-liters fell 25.1 percent and 15.0 percent last year vis-a-vis the previous year, KITA said. It added that shipments of alcoholic beverages such as soju and beer dropped 22.7 percent and 49.9 percent, respectively, while exports of kimchi, a fermented vegetable side dish, decreased 22.1 percent. In contrast, imports of tuna and cars made in Japan jumped 95.5 percent and 67.4 percent, respectively, in the same period. On the tourism front, the weak yen played a role in getting more people to visit the neighboring country, while discouraging Japanese tourists from coming to South Korea.
The number of South Koreans going to Japan jumped 20.2 percent to 2.46 million last year from 2.04 million in 2012, while inbound tourist numbers were down 21.9 percent from 3.52 million to 2.75 million. KITA said that unless there is a noticeable shift in the exchange rates, the trend in consumer goods trade and tourism will not change in the foreseeable future