SEOUL – South Korea on Monday put Japan back on its “white list” of trusted trading partners, three years after the removal, in a move to improve their bilateral economic and diplomatic relationship, the industry ministry said.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy issued a revision to its public notice on exports and imports of strategic items in the day that calls for restoring Japan’s fast-track trade status, allowing companies that export strategic items to Japan to enjoy a shorter time for review and simpler paperwork.
The move raised the number of nations given preferential treatment in trade to 29, which includes the United States, France and Britain, it added.
In 2019, South Korea took Japan off its white list following Tokyo’s removal of Seoul from its list in apparent retaliation against the South Korean Supreme Court rulings the previous year that ordered two Japanese companies to pay compensation to Korean forced labor victims during Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
Last month, however, the two sides vowed the reinstatement after South Korea announced plans to compensate the victims without asking Japan for contributions.
Japan has not yet given details about when South Korea will return to its trade white list, though South Korean officials said Tokyo needs longer domestic procedures for a necessary law revision.
Director-level officials from Seoul and Tokyo will begin another round of trade talks in Tokyo on Monday following a meeting in Seoul last week.
Japan lifted curbs on exports to Seoul of three materials last month — fluorinated polyimide, photoresist and hydrogen fluoride — that are critical for the production of semiconductors and displays, which had been in place since 2019.
Under the revised public notice, South Korea also announced a decision to tighten export controls on major industry items against Russia and Belarus in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, which will take effect Friday.
The Seoul government added 741 more items related to semiconductors, chemicals, steel, autos, machinery, quantum computers and other things to the list of items that are banned from shipping to Russia and Belarus, significantly raising the total number of items on the list to 798, according to the ministry.
The move came as the chances are high for those items to be used by importing nations for weapons and military purposes, the ministry said, adding that it will make a case-by-case review for “exceptional cases” for shipments to the two nations. (Yonhap)