Korea takes Ja­pan to WTO for ‘un­fair’ ex­port re­stric­tions

The Korea Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Nam Hyun-woo [email protected]­re­atimes.co.kr

The gov­ern­ment will file a com­plaint with the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WTO) against Ja­pan for its July 4 im­po­si­tion of ex­port re­stric­tions against South Korean com­pa­nies with re­gard to three im­por­tant ma­te­ri­als for man­u­fac­tur­ing semi­con­duc­tors and dis­play pan­els, the trade min­is­ter said Wed­nes­day.

The trade row be­tween the two coun­tries has not es­ca­lated in re­cent weeks, as Tokyo has not taken any ad­di­tional ac­tions af­ter re­mov­ing Korea from its whitelist of trade part­ners al­lowed pref­er­en­tial treat­ment, Aug. 28. This move af­fected nearly 1,200 items. How­ever, when Korea files its com­plaint with the WTO, the feud be­tween the two coun­tries could get nas­tier.

“The gov­ern­ment will file a com­plaint with the WTO against Ja­pan for the coun­try’s ex­port re­stric­tion mea­sures which took ef­fect on three core semi­con­duc­tor ma­te­ri­als on July 4,” Trade Min­is­ter Yoo Myung-hee said dur­ing a press con­fer­ence.

“The process will be­gin with the gov­ern­ment send­ing doc­u­ments re­quest­ing talks to the Ja­panese gov­ern­ment and the WTO body.”

Fol­low­ing this, Ja­pan will have 10 days to de­cide whether to ac­cept the re­quest. If it does, the two coun­tries will have 60 days to ne­go­ti­ate a set­tle­ment. If they fail to do so, the WTO’s Dis­pute Set­tle­ment Body will set up a panel, which will work as jury for the dis­pute. If Ja­pan re­fuses to take part in the talks, the panel will be con­vened im­me­di­ately.

The Min­istry of Trade, In­dus­try and En­ergy ex­pects it could take up to 15 months for the WTO to make a rul­ing. How­ever, the time for a set­tle­ment to be achieved could be dragged out fur­ther if ei­ther side appeals.

Yoo stressed that Ja­pan’s ex­port re­stric­tions on the three ma­te­ri­als — pho­tore­sist, hy­dro­gen flu­o­ride and flu­o­ri­nated poly­imide — was based on a “po­lit­i­cal mo­tive in re­sponse to last year’s Supreme Court rul­ings here call­ing for Ja­panese firms to com­pen­sate sur­viv­ing Kore­ans forced to work for them dur­ing wartime.”

“Along with the un­fair­ness of the mea­sure, Ja­pan an­nounced the re­stric­tion with­out any prior no­ti­fi­ca­tion, and im­ple­mented it just three days af­ter the an­nounce­ment,” Yoo said. “Through this, Ja­pan ig­nored the le­git­i­macy of pro­to­col and didn’t show the min­i­mum con­sid­er­a­tion to its neigh­bor­ing coun­try.”

The gov­ern­ment said it be­lieves Ja­pan broke WTO agree­ments by dis­crim­i­nat­ing against Korea through the ex­port re­stric­tions on freely traded goods and is us­ing trade for po­lit­i­cal rea­sons.

Korea threat­ened to file a com­plaint with the WTO af­ter Tokyo changed its ex­port rules to have the three ma­te­ri­als in­di­vid­u­ally li­censed be­fore be­ing shipped to Korean im­porters. Since then, only three batches of the reg­u­lated items have been ap­proved for ex­port to Korea. Ad­di­tion­ally, Ja­pan an­nounced Aug. 7 that it was re­mov­ing Korea from its “whitelist” of coun­tries re­ceiv­ing pref­er­en­tial trade sta­tus, and im­ple­mented this from Aug. 28.

In re­sponse, the gov­ern­ment an­nounced the re­moval of Ja­pan from its whitelist, Aug. 12, which is ex­pected to be im­ple­ment as early as next week.


Trade Min­is­ter Yoo Myung-hee speaks dur­ing a press con­fer­ence at the Gov­ern­ment Com­plex in Seoul, Wed­nes­day.

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