SEOUL, Dec. 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will expand its financial support programs for materials, parts and equipment sectors next year, as it seeks to boost competitiveness in the key industrial sectors, a senior official said Thursday.
Vice Finance Minister Kim Yong-beom made the remarks at a meeting with relevant officials earlier in the day amid a trade spat over Japan's export restrictions against South Korea.
Kim said the government will provide some 750 billion won (US$631.7 million) in financial support for the three sectors next year.
The plan includes a 300 billion-won fund, partly backed by the government, to bolster the competitive edge of promising startups, the Ministry of Economy and Finance said in a statement.
Next year, the government plans to help channel more funds to small and medium-sized firms and owners of self-employed businesses, according to the statement.
In July, Tokyo imposed tighter regulations on exports to Seoul of three materials -- resist, etching gas and fluorinated polyimide -- that are critical for the production of semiconductors and flexible displays. Japan later removed South Korea from its list of trusted trading partners.
Under the new rules, Japanese companies are required to apply for an individual license to export materials to South Korea, a process that can take up to 90 days.
South Korea views the Japanese moves as retaliation against last year's South Korean Supreme Court rulings ordering Japanese firms to compensate South Korean victims of forced labor during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
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