S. Korea begins process of excluding Japan from whitelist

By Bae Hyunjung

Trade Ministry posts notice on reclassification of trade partners which is likely to take effect in September

  • Published : Aug 14, 2019 - 17:09
  • Updated : Aug 14, 2019 - 17:09

South Korea on Wednesday started the legislative process to exclude Japan from its list of preferential trading partners, as part of the snowballing trade row between the two neighbors.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy has posted an advance legislative notice to revise its whitelist of trade partners, removing Japan from the top-tier list.

Feedback will be accepted until Sept. 2, after which it will be put through a regulatory screening and legal review, before taking effect.

Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Sung Yun-mo (left) answers lawmakers’ questions concerning the government’s countermeasures to Japan’s export curbs at the parliamentary trade committee on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

Earlier this week, Seoul decided to revise its categorization of trading partners into three groups from the present two.

The newly added group is for countries that violate international norms on export controls, while being a member of four international agreements -- Nuclear Suppliers Group, Australia Group, Missile Technology Control Regime, and Wassenaar Arrangement.

While all the other 28 nations in the whitelist will remain under the same category, Japan will be shifted to the third regulatory bracket.

Countries in the second group will face the same level of export restrictions as China and North Korea, but may be partly exempted from trade processes when it comes to key strategic materials that “contribute to world peace and Korea’s national security.”

The Trade Ministry usually revises its list of strategic materials once a year, based on updated industrial needs and market circumstances. Its most recent revision took place in October last year, following a request by the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission on the technology transfer of nuclear energy-exclusive items.

Individuals or companies who wish to submit an opinion on the latest legislative notice may contact the ministry’s Export Control Policy Division (044-203-4708 via fax) or post on the Legislative Office’s online bulletin (, the government said.

When Japan previously announced a notice to exclude Korea from its whitelist, over 40,000 opinions were submitted on the issue. In light of the mounting hostility between both countries since then, the extent of feedback here is largely expected to surpass that of Japan.

While gearing up for stronger measures Seoul also left room for communication, in case Japan relaxes its restrictions in the future.

“We are ready to respond whenever, wherever, should Japan call for negotiations during the feedback period,” said Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Sung Yun-mo earlier this week.

By Bae Hyun-jung (