News Article

South Korea pursuing WTO panel on Japan’s tightened export sanctions

The government of South Korea has asked the World Trade Organisation to formulate a dispute-settlement committee over Japan’s allegedly unjustified tightening of export sanctions on semiconductor materials, the government said Thursday.

On the same day, the official request to appoint a committee of experts to consider the case was directed to the WTO Secretariat in Geneva and the Japanese side.

On June 2, South Korea’s Trade, Industry and Energy Ministry announced it was resurrecting the dispute because Japan had not shown desire to resolve the matter bilaterally following months of negotiations.

In July last year, Japan tightened sanctions on South Korea-bound shipments of three core materials used to produce semiconductors and display panels.

The following month, Japan dropped the country from a whitelist of countries granted preferential trading rights, raising concerns about Seoul’s loose regulations on exporting sensitive goods.

In September, South Korea lodged the WTO complaint, arguing the sanctions were a means of political retaliation but suspended it in November after the countries decided to start export control consultations.

Recently, Seoul has accused Japan of not holding up its end of the deal by relaxing its export restrictions despite having addressed Tokyo’s concerns on the South Korean side.

Ties between the Asian neighbours have been particularly strained since South Korea’s top court made a series of rulings that required compensation for people deemed to have been forced to work in Japanese factories during the 1910-1945 period of Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

Japan maintains that the compensation issue was settled for good by a 1965 bilateral agreement and has condemned the seizure of Japanese companies’ assets in South Korea.

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