• Kyodo

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Chile has supplanted longtime No. 1 France as the top exporter of wine to Japan in 2015, Finance Ministry data shows.

Imports of Chilean wine jumped 18.1 percent from the previous year to 51.59 million liters, while those of French wine fell 2.8 percent to 51.51 million liters, according to 2015 trade data released Thursday.

Imports from Chile have steadily grown over the past decade, lifting Chile from fifth place in 2005 to second in 2013, when they overtook imports from Italy.

Industry observers say the fruity taste and relatively low prices make Chilean wine easy to drink, supporting its growing popularity in Japan.

Since the Economic Partnership Agreement between Japan and Chile took effect in 2007, the tariff on Chilean wine has gradually dropped, luring more Japanese consumers.

Dealer Mercian Corp. says a 750-ml bottle of Chilean wine supplied by volume sellers in 2015 cost ¥602 on average, about 40 percent lower than the ¥1,029 average for French wine.

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