No winners in trade war: Moon

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No winners in trade war: Moon


President Moon Jae-in, far left, gives a speech Thursday during the National Economic Advisory emergency meeting with economists and university professors. Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki, second from left, and Presidential Chief of Policy Kim Sang-jo, second from right, attended as well. [YONHAP]

President Moon Jae-in didn’t mince his words Thursday, saying Japan’s trade restrictions are “retaliation.”

“The actions taken by Japan is economic retaliation for our Supreme Court’s ruling on forced labor,” Moon said during a National Economic Advisory Council emergency meeting with economists and university professors. Government officials, including Minister of Economy and Finance Hong Nam-ki, attended as well.

“Although we have to watch for a little longer on how far Japan plans to take the current situation, the actions that have been taken so far are not beneficial for the economies and the people of both countries,” the president said.

“People globally have expressed concern as their actions weakened the free trade order and weakened confidence in the international value chain.”

He again stressed the conflict will only result in harming both countries and that there will be no winners.

“I don’t understand what Japan could gain from the unilateral retaliatory trade actions,” Moon said. “Even if there is something to gain, it would only be temporary. Everyone will be damaged from a game with no winners.”

President Moon said the government has been preparing both short-term and long-term measures since the Japanese government raised the possibility of expanding the number of export items that would face restrictions.

Japan on Wednesday removed Korea from its “white list” of 27 countries that receive preferential treatment in export processes.

“Of course, Japan may not implement export restrictions and there may not be any actual damage,” Moon said. “However, one thing that hasn’t changed is uncertainty, and that still remains much alive.”

Japan on Thursday approved the export of one of the three materials that has been restricted since July 4. The Blue House was cautious in interpreting the news optimistically.

“Although we see the approval positively, the restriction and the exclusion from the ‘white list’ is still in progress,” said a Blue House official. “Uncertainty still exists.”

In addition to attending President Moon’s council meeting, Blue House policy chief Kim Sang-jo met with the executive managements of Korea’s top five conglomerates ? Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor, SK, LG and Lotte ? on Thursday to discuss countermeasures.

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Yoon Boo-keun, Hyundai Motor President on strategy planning, Kong Young-woon, SK Innovation CEO Kim Jun, LG Vice Chairman Kwon Young-soo and Lotte Vice Chairman Hwang Kak-gyu attended the meeting.

The details of the meeting were not disclosed.

The Blue House has been increasing its contacts with the business community since Japan announced trade restrictions.

Three days after trade restrictions on the three materials officially commenced, Kim Sang-jo summoned the heads of the top five conglomerates, including: Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong; Hyundai Motor Group Vice Chairman Chung Eui-sun; SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won; LG Group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo; and Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin.

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