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S. Korea urges Japan to resolve trade dispute

South Korea on Tuesday once again urged Japan to resolve their trade dispute through consultations in accordance with the World Trade Organization regulations, according to government officials.

Japan unilaterally announced its decision to impose tighter export controls against Korea three months ago. On July 4, it tightened export controls for three high-tech materials: fluorinated polyimide, photoresist and hydrogen fluoride.

Industry Minister Sung Yun-mo
Industry Minister Sung Yun-mo

“The export restrictions are still in place. The number of export approvals by the Japanese government for the three items are permitted only in a highly restrictive manner,” according to a statement released by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

“Liquid hydrogen fluoride exports for semiconductors now require as many as nine documents, similar to countries subject to a United Nations arms embargo.”

In the last three months, not a single approval has been given for exports, instead the Japanese authorities are demanding additional documents, according to the ministry.

Japan also approves exports of the three types of materials individually and not collectively.

This is in fact “a more discriminatory system” than that is applied to other countries that have not joined the four multilateral export control regimes, the ministry contended. Japan’s export controls against Korea have increased uncertainties in the supply chain and substantively affected the operations of domestic companies, the statement read.

Over the past three months, Korea has proposed dialogue and consultations through various channels for the withdrawal of Japan’s export restrictions, but has not yet received any response.

On Sept. 11, Korea filed a complaint with the WTO over the issue by requesting bilateral consultations.

“We once again urge Japan to reexamine its position in order to resolve this issue through consultations in accordance with the relevant provisions of the WTO,” the ministry said. 

By Shin Ji-hye (