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S. Korea's imports of cars, watches grow in 2013


SEJONG, March 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's imports of vehicles and wristwatches grew significantly in 2013 from a year earlier while its purchases of coffee and jewelry dropped, the customs office said Tuesday.

Last year, South Korea imported some US$5.48 billion worth of cars, up 21.9 percent from $4.49 billion in the previous year, according to the Korea Customs Service.

Imports of watches jumped 12 percent on-year to some $254 million, apparently reflecting growing demand here for fashionable items, it said.

Imports of bottled water nearly tripled from $9 million in 2012 to $25 million.

"Imports of bottled water have been growing steadily in recent years with most imports coming from China and France, in that order," the office said in a press release.

The country's imports of ground coffee, on the other hand, plunged 15.9 percent on-year to $502 million while purchases of coffee beans gained 6.1 percent.

The customs office said the rise in imports of coffee beans may reflect a growing preference here for high-quality or specialty coffee.

Imports of jewelry amounted to about $1.97 billion last year, down 7.5 percent from $2.13 billion in 2012.

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