China recently banned some Korean cosmetics citing lack of proper documentation amid growing signs of economic retaliation for the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile battery here.
According to the Korea International Trade Association, Chinese authorities last week published a list of cosmetics whose makers had failed to submit the proper paperwork for import as of November 2016.
Of the 28 products, 19 are Korean, including products from Aekyung, Iaso and CJ Lion. Eleven tons of cosmetics have been sent back to Korea as a result.
"Most of the products are Korean, and the others from the U.K. and Thailand," an industry insider said. "This is why we're concerned that this measure is actually a crackdown on Korean products."
A staffer at Iaso, a medium-sized manufacturer, said, "We started exporting to China in 2007 and now sell 53 skincare and makeup items there, and we've never had a problem before. They seem to have picked on some procedural elements in the way we provided free samples. It wasn't about the quality of products."
But leading exporters Amore Pacific and LG Household and Health Care were not on the list. A KITA spokesman said, "The reason these 19 products were not passed this time was a trivial lack of documentation, which had never been a problem before. We're keeping a close eye on the situation because it may mean that customs formalities will become tougher in the future."
According to the Trade Ministry, Korean companies sold some US$1.43 billion worth of cosmetics in China from January to November last year (US$1=W1,198).