South Korea's import prices fell for the 16th straight month in December as prices of raw materials excluding oil declined and the Korean won appreciated against the US dollar, the central bank said Tuesday. In local currency terms, the country's import prices declined 3.5% in December from a year earlier, compared with a 4.9% on-year fall in November, according to the Bank of Korea (BOK). It marked the 16th consecutive month of on-year declines in import prices from September 2012 when such prices dipped 2.2% on-year, according to South Korea's (Yonhap) News Agency. Prices of Dubai crude, South Korea's benchmark, rose 1% in December from a year earlier, compared with a 1.7% on-year fall in November. But the Korean won appreciated 1.92% to the greenback in December compared with the previous year. The import prices gained 0.4% in December from the previous month. They had registered a 0.5% on-month decline in November. For the whole of 2013, the import prices declined 7.3% on the won's gain and the falling trend of oil costs, compared with a 0.7% on-year fall in the previous year. In local currency terms, South Korea's export prices fell 2.1% on-year last month after dropping 2.5% in November. The export prices shed 0.3% in December from the previous month, compared with a 0.8% on-month fall in November, the central bank said. In 2013, the export prices fell 4.3% after declining 2.4% in the previous year. The data follow the BOK's key interest rate freeze at 2.5% for the eighth straight month in January.