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(LEAD) Japan OKs 7 shipments of industrial materials under restriction to S. Korea

All News 14:35 October 02, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS details in paras 5-7)
By Kang Yoon-seung

SEOUL, Oct. 2 (Yonhap) -- Japan has approved only seven shipments of sensitive industrial materials under restriction to South Korea since the neighbor implemented its export curbs in July. Seoul's trade minister said Wednesday.

In July, Tokyo abruptly adopted strict regulations on South Korea-bound exports of three industrial items -- fluorine polyimide, photoresist and hydrogen fluoride -- vital for the production of chips and displays.

In a parliamentary audit session, Seoul's Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee said Japan has given the green light to only seven shipments of the three industrial materials to South Korea since the implementation.

The ministry said a day earlier it has confirmed five approvals as of end-September.

So far, Japan approved three shipments of photoresist and high-purity hydrogen fluoride, or etching gas, to South Korea, along with one permission for fluorine polyimide.

Fluorine polyimide is used to make flexible organic light-emitting diode displays, and photoresist is a thin layer used to transfer a circuit pattern to a semiconductor substrate. Etching gas is needed in the semiconductor fabrication process.

Not a single approval, however, has been issued by Japan for South Korea-bound shipments of the liquid form of hydrogen fluoride, the ministry added.

(LEAD) Japan OKs 7 shipments of industrial materials under restriction to S. Korea - 1

"We are eager to negotiate with Japan (on the trade dispute). We have been making such requests to Japan, but they have not been responding," Yoo said.

Under the new policy, Japanese firms need to go through more complicated procedures to ship such materials to South Korea, including filing more documents.

Japan's export restriction is widely seen as a retaliation against a Seoul court's ruling last year that ordered Japanese firms to compensate victims of their wartime forced labor, during Japan's 1910-1945 brutal colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

Tokyo says the export restriction did not come as retaliation and was inevitable due to South Korea's lax export control of sensitive goods. It has not, however, provided any piece of evidence behind the allegation.

Last month, South Korea filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) over Japan's unfair trade practices. Japan agreed to hold a bilateral consultation as the first step of the WTO dispute settlement.

If the two fail to narrow their differences within 60 days, the WTO Dispute Settlement Body will establish a panel to look further into the case.

In August, Japan also removed South Korea from its "whitelist" of trusted trading partners, which are granted preferential treatments in the trade of sensitive industrial materials. Last month, South Korea also took Japan off its own list of trusted trade partners in an apparent tit-for-tat measure.


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