Seoul formally gives Tokyo its opinion on ‘white list’ removal

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Seoul formally gives Tokyo its opinion on ‘white list’ removal

Seoul told Tokyo not to remove Korea from a list of countries receiving preferential trade status.

Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said Wednesday that it sent a formal opinion to Tokyo arguing that the removal would threaten the economic and security partnership between the two countries.

Japan announced earlier that it would remove Korea from its so-called “white list” of 27 countries subject to preferential treatment on export processing by amending trade regulations, citing security reasons and erosion of trust.

The first step for the removal, accepting opinions, ends Wednesday.

Removal from that list would have an impact on many more exports from Japan beyond the three industrial materials used to make semiconductors and displays that Tokyo started restricting on July 4.

“[The measures] shake the core of the economic partnership between Korea and Japan and the security cooperation in Northeast Asia that has been closely maintained and developed over 60 years,” said Minister of Trade Sung Yun-mo during a press briefing at the Central Government Complex in Seoul.

“The groundless export restriction measures on three semiconductor materials must immediately be restored to their original state,” said Sung. “The amendment … that seeks to remove Korea from the white list must also be withdrawn.”

Sung argued against Tokyo’s reasons for the restrictions by saying that Japan lacks an understanding of Korea’s export control system.

The minister expressed concern that the measures violate the principles of free trade and could have a negative impact on the global supply chain.

The two countries will also face off later Wednesday in Geneva during a World Trade Organization (WTO) General Council meeting.

The WTO meeting will not make a decision on the trade dispute but will provide a forum for the two countries to argue their cases to other member countries.

Discussions about Japan’s export restrictions that had been expected to be held on Tuesday were postponed because talks on other matters were drawn out.

The Trade Ministry again emphasized Wednesday that Seoul is preparing to file a complaint to the WTO about Japan’s export restrictions.

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