South Koreans are importing more roasted coffee from the United States, reflecting the popularity of U.S. brands, as well as relaxed trade taxes.
The amount of roasted coffee imported by South Korea from the United States saw a double-digit annual increase in 2013, according to data released July 4 by the Korea Customs Service and obtained by multiple Korean news outlets. U.S. roasters supplied the country with 3,066 tons of roasted coffee in 2013, a 16.5 percent increase from 2012, and a 97 percent increase from 2011.
Much of the increase can be attributed the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement, signed in March of 2012, which reduced tariffs on roasted beans from the United States from 8 percent to their current level of 3.2 percent.
The United States continues to be the top supplier of roasted coffee to Korea, and in 2013 increased its percentage share over the second and third largest suppliers, Italy and Japan. In total, the United States accounted for nearly half of the 6,127 tons of roasted coffee imported by Korea — and both numbers are growing.
Korea’s total imports of roasted beans grew 13.8 percent last year and have increased by 10.8 percent in the first five months of this year. The percentage of imports of roasted beans has steadily increased to 5.1 percent of the total coffee imports in Korea, nearing instant coffee imports, which fell this year to 5.8 percent. Green coffee represents the other 89.1 percent.