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Asia Minute: Leading Word for Exports: Beer

Pixabay Commons
Pixabay Commons

Exports are an important part of any economy—and that’s especially true for many countries in the Asia Pacific.  From semiconductors to cars, South Korea depends on exports for nearly a third of its overall economic activity.  And while trends are declining for many products, there’s one notable exception.  HPR’s Bill Dorman explains in today’s Asia Minute.

These are record-breaking days for Korean beer.  This week, the government reported beer exports hit a record high last year—up more than 15%…and they’re continuing to grow this year—even while other exports are having trouble.

Since 2013, South Korean exports to the world have fallen 6%….while South Korean exports of beer have grown by 17%.  The absolute numbers are still relatively low—less than $85 million a year in beer exports…but the trend is growing.  The leading market for Korean beer is Hong Kong—accounting for more than 40% of the exports.  China has developed into second place—with nearly 23% of the total—and a story.

The Korea Times quotes a government official who attributes the growth in South Korean beer sales in China to the popularity of another South Korean export: T.V. dramas.  Those programs often show South Korean characters eating fried chicken and drinking beer…a combination so popular in Korea it has its own name—shortening the Korean words for chicken and beer into “chi-maek.”  Number three on the beer export list may be tougher to understand—the government says nearly nine-percent of South Korean beer exports now go to Iraq.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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