South Korean spirits producers report that exports of the national spirit, Soju, to China rose sharply in the period from January to April 2005.

In value terms, exports to China reached US$876,700 for the four months, representing an increase of 136%against the comparable period a year earlier, according to data released by the Korea Alcohol & Liquor Industry Association. In volume terms, exports rose by 127% to 558 kiloliters.

Meanwhile, soju exports to Japan fell by 8% to US$31.49m. "As South Korea's claim of the Japanese soju market, which has become a hot spot for competition, reached as much as 20%, we are now turning our focus to China," a spokesman for leading South Korean spirits manufacturer, Jinro, said.

However, total soju exports fell by 3.3% in value terms to US$35.45m.