S. Korea removes Japan from list of countries for preferential treatment

13, Aug. 2019

SEOUL, AJU - In an apparent tit-for-tat strategy to match Japan's trade restrictions, South Korea removed Japan from its own list of trusted trading partners, tightening procedural regulations on exports of strategic goods. Revised rules will be enforced in September.

The South's trade ministry said Monday that it has changed a “white” list of 29 trading partners for preferential treatment as members of the world's top four export control agreements to remove Japan and place it into a newly established bracket of countries. Exports of strategic goods to Japan are required to present five different documents to win approval instead of three and the approval process will take 15 days instead of five.

“It is necessary to operate an export control system considering the difficulties of close international cooperation with countries that operate the system in violation of the basic principles of the international export control system or where inappropriate cases occur continuously,” Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Sung Yun-mo said.

Of 1,735 strategic goods, 597 are listed as sensitive items which are subject to special management, Sung's office said.

South Korea's latest move came in apparent retaliation for Japan's export restrictions, but Park Tae-sung, deputy minister for trade and investment, stressed that there was a clear difference as South Korea is revising rules in a transparent manner within the domestic and international legal framework while Japanese measures are unfair and does not conform to basic principles in international law and norms.

President Moon Jae-in vowed to strike back step by step at Japan's “reckless” trade retaliation aimed at hurting South Korea's economy and future growth on August 2 when Japan took fresh steps to remove South Korea from a list of trusted trading partners nearly a month after restrictions were imposed on exports of three key materials used for the production of microchips and displays.

South Korea has unveiled measures to contain the fallout from Japan's trade retaliation, such as an alternative source of parts and materials, fast customs clearance, a reduction in tariffs, an expansion of production facilities, sufficient financial support and bold investment in nurturing human resources.