Japan eases export curbs on one key material

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Japan eases export curbs on one key material

Japan said Friday it will partially ease export curbs against Korea by simplifying related procedures for one of three products subject to recent restrictions, in the latest development in the monthslong trade dispute.

Under the move, Japan will ease regulations on the trading of photoresists by granting companies comprehensive, instead of individual approvals, the latter involving tougher and longer procedures, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said. Photoresists are used in the production of semiconductors.

Economic ties between Seoul and Tokyo have been facing an unprecedented deadlock since Japan imposed restrictions on exports to Seoul of three key industrial materials critical for Korea’s chip and display industries in July. Japan later removed Seoul from its list of trusted trading partners.

It was initially thought that Japan’s actions would have an impact on the local industry due to South Korea’s heavy dependence on the three materials controlled by Tokyo - photoresists, etching gas and fluorinated polyimide.

Tokyo cited Korea’s alleged lax export control system for sensitive materials that can be diverted for military use as the reason behind its export restrictions.

Seoul regards the measures as a retaliation against a Supreme Court rulings ordering Japanese firms to compensate Korean forced labor.

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