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(LEAD) Seoul, Tokyo to hold high-level talks over bilateral trade row in Dec.

All News 09:40 November 29, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS details in paras 5-6)
By Kang Yoon-seung

SEOUL, Nov. 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and Japan will hold high-level talks with Japan in December, the first step toward resolving their bilateral trade row, Seoul's trade ministry said Friday.

On Thursday, working-level trade officials from South Korea and Japan met in Seoul, apparently to discuss the schedule and agenda for director-general level talks.

"Through the meeting, the two countries agreed to meet in Tokyo around the third week of December on export policies," South Korea's Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said in a statement.

"During the December meeting, the two countries plan to exchange opinions on various domestic and external situations related to export control," it added.

The two also agreed to hold a preparation meeting in Vienna on Wednesday for the director-general-level gathering.

Lee Ho-hyeon, the director general for International Trade Policy under the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, speaks during a press brefing in Seoul on Nov. 29, 2019. (Yonhap)

"In order to settle the ongoing dispute, the two countries plan to discuss on various aspects surrounding the whitelist and export control issues," Lee Ho-hyeon, the director general for International Trade Policy under the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, said in a media briefing.

"It is significant that the two countries have a willingness to settle the issue," the official added. "Our eventual goal is to normalize all measures imposed against each other to the situation before July this year."

Japan implemented restrictions on exporting three key industrial materials vital for South Korea's chip and display industries in July, and later stripped its Asian neighbor from its list of trusted trading partners.

The Seoul government views the measures as economic retaliation against the country's Supreme Court ruling that ordered compensation for Koreans forced into labor during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

Japan, however, claims that its measures came in response to South Korea's alleged lax trade control of strategic goods, although it never provided evidence to back up the claim.

South Korea earlier filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) over Japan's export restrictions on key industrial materials.

Seoul, however, recently decided to suspend the ongoing legal dispute process at the WTO, which has been facing a deadlock, as the country decided to "conditionally" suspend the termination of the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) with Japan.

(LEAD) Seoul, Tokyo to hold high-level talks over bilateral trade row in Dec. - 2

colin@yna.co.kr
(END)

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