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(LEAD) Moon stresses localization of components, materials to cope with Japan's export curbs

Politics 17:11 July 24, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES with more remarks by the president in paras 8-10)

SEOUL, July 24 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday called for concerted national efforts to localize key industrial components and materials and to diversify import sources to cope with the economic difficulties caused by Japan's export restrictions and a trade conflict between the United States and China.

Moon also vowed to accelerate regulatory innovation to support new technological development and achieve the world's most innovative growth, while meeting with provincial governors and metropolitan city mayors in Busan.

"Our goal is to attain the most innovative growth in the world. For that purpose, we have to create an environment where the world's first new technologies are developed and commercialized," the president said at the meeting held at the southern port city's Nurimaru APEC House.

Referring to Japan's export curbs against South Korea, Moon again stressed sweeping regulatory reform to expedite the development of new technologies and the localization of components and materials.

President Moon Jae-in (front row, C) and mayors and governors of 17 metropolitan cities and provinces pose prior to their meeting at the Nurimaru APEC House in Busan on July 24, 2019. (Yonhap)

President Moon Jae-in (front row, C) and mayors and governors of 17 metropolitan cities and provinces pose prior to their meeting at the Nurimaru APEC House in Busan on July 24, 2019. (Yonhap)

"Our mainstay industries are now in a difficult situation due to the U.S.-China trade dispute and Japan's export restrictions. It is a very grave situation that requires us all to join forces," Moon said.

"Localization of components and materials and diversification of their import sources are a challenging but unavoidable path to follow. We should also proactively cope with changes in the era of the fourth industrial revolution."

Moon has repeatedly called for the localization of industries since Japan began applying export curbs on South Korea for three key materials needed for the production of chips and displays on July 4 in apparent response to Seoul's handling of a wartime forced labor issue.

According to a written briefing by presidential spokesperson Ko Min-jung, Moon vowed to "confidently" deal with the issue of Japan's export restrictions during his lunch with the local government leaders held after their debate session.

Moon made the comment after the governors and mayors expressed gratitude to the Moon government for its stern countermeasures against Tokyo's trade curbs.

"(The feud with Japan) should be diplomatically resolved but I think this is a precious opportunity. Despite sufficient capabilities to make products domestically, we have so far depended on cooperation with Japan and refrained from actively pursuing changes. If our capabilities are fully mobilized, we can not only overcome the current difficulties but also lower our dependence on Japan," Moon said.

The president emphasized the support and role of provincial governments in the central government's efforts for regulatory reform and innovation.

"Regulatory innovation was a matter of choice in the past era of industrialization. In this fusion era of the fourth industrial revolution, it is a matter of survival. The government will prioritize regulatory innovation to cope with the fourth industrial revolution and support corporations' new challenges," Moon said.

Moon and the mayors and governors of the nation's 17 metropolitan cities and provinces have now met five times, with the Busan meeting coming 11 months after the previous one last August.

The president said that his government implemented a regulatory sandbox system and a regulation-free special zone system this year in response to public and corporate demands for more sweeping deregulation. Moon's government has designated seven of the 17 provinces and metropolitan cities as being free of regulation in as many industrial fields. Under the policy, Gangwon Province was designated as regulation-free for digital health care, Daegu for smart wellness, South Jeolla Province for e-mobility, North Chungcheong Province for smart safety, North Gyeongsang Province for advanced battery recycling, Busan for blockchain technology and Sejong for autonomous driving.


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