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Seoul, Tokyo begin consultations over WTO dispute

All News 18:01 October 11, 2019

SEOUL/GENEVA, Oct. 11 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and Japan launched their bilateral talks on Friday in Switzerland to discuss the ongoing trade row between the two Asian neighbors, the first step toward resolving the dispute at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The meeting, held in Geneva, came after Japan implemented regulations on the export to South Korea of three industrial materials vital for the production of chips and displays.

Last month, South Korea formally filed a complaint with the WTO over what it calls economic retaliation from Japan.

South Korea claimed Japan has violated a set of international trade rules, including Article 11 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which bans regulations on export volumes unless the products have a serious impact on national security.

Japan accepted South Korea's request for bilateral negotiations last month.

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.

Japan claims that it was inevitable to do so as South Korea operates a lax control system on the trade of sensitive goods.

South Korea, however, believes Japan's move was in response to a Seoul court's ruling that ordered Japanese firms to compensate for its wartime forced labor during Tokyo's 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

In August, Japan also removed South Korea from its "whitelist" of trusted trading partners, which are granted preferential treatment 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.

Chung Hae-kwan, director-general of multilateral and legal affairs at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, speaks to reporters on Oct. 10, 2019, at Geneva Airport in Switzerland ahead of a meeting between Seoul and Tokyo on their ongoing trade dispute. (Yonhap)


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