Seoul, July 9 (Jiji Press) — The South Korean government criticized Japan’s tightened controls on semiconductor materials exports to South Korea, at a World Trade Organization meeting in Geneva on Tuesday.
Seoul urged Tokyo to withdraw the measure, claiming that it amounts to economic retaliation taken for political purposes.
The Japanese side countered by saying that the measure was implemented in accordance with WTO rules.
The trade row is likely to further escalate tensions between the Asian neighbors, which have already been fierce due partly to the issue of wartime labor, pundits said.
This was the first time for the two countries to present their respective positions at the WTO since Tokyo introduced the tighter controls on South Korea-bound exports of resists, hydrogen fluoride and fluorinated polyimide last Thursday.
South Korea is expected to put more pressure on Japan while working to win the understanding of the international community for its argument that the Japanese measure is problematic. Seoul is set to consider countermeasures, such as filing a petition with the Geneva-based global trade referee.
At the WTO meeting, Paik Ji-ah, South Korea’s ambassador to Geneva, said it is regrettable that Japan introduced the measure after leaders of the Group of 20 advanced and emerging economies, including Japan and South Korea, adopted a joint statement showing their intentions to realize a free, fair and non-discriminatory trade environment at their meeting in the western Japan city of Osaka late last month.
On Japan’s claim that it implemented the measure as there had been an inappropriate case on the South Korean side, Paik said that this could not be a reason for the action in light of WTO rules.
She also argued that the tightened controls will possibly have a negative spillover effect on the global electronic device market and affect other WTO member countries.
Meanwhile, Junichi Ihara, Japan’s ambassador at the country’s permanent mission to international organizations in Geneva, stressed at the meeting that the Japanese measure does not amount to a trade embargo and is fully in accordance with WTO rules, noting that it represents an operational review needed to ensure the appropriate implementation of the country’s export regulations, according to informed sources.
At the WTO meeting, which started on Monday for debates on issues related to goods trade, the South Korean government called for discussions on the tighter export controls by Japan as an additional agenda item.
South Korea is expected to argue against the Japanese measure also at a two-day WTO General Council meeting from July 23.