(2nd LD) S. Korea withdraws WTO complaint about Japan's export curb
(ATTN: UPDATES with industry minister's quote in para 8)
SEOUL, March 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korea decided Thursday to withdraw its complaint filed with the World Trade Organization, as Japan vowed to lift its export curb of key semiconductor materials against Seoul ahead of the crucial summit of their leaders in Tokyo.
The move came after Japan decided to lift its export restrictions on three materials critical for the production of semiconductors and flexible displays -- fluorine polyimide, photoresist and hydrogen fluoride -- to South Korea.
The decisions made by the two countries followed three-day bilateral talks on export controls that started Tuesday.
"During the dialogue, there was a close exchange of opinions on the effectiveness of export control, including the two countries' systems and their operations, as well as follow-up measures," the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said in a statement.
In 2019, Tokyo imposed export controls on the three materials and officially removed South Korea from its list of nations given preferential treatment in trade in apparent retaliation for the South Korean Supreme Court's ruling that ordered Japanese companies to pay compensation to Korean forced labor victims.
In response to the export controls, South Korea filed a complaint with the WTO over the trade dispute, calling it a discriminatory act.
South Korea and Japan also plan to continue talks to reinstate each other to their "whitelist" of trusted trading partners.
"The latest agreement is not only about removing export regulations, but it is also the first step in establishing trust," Industry Minister Lee Chang-yang told reporters in Japan.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol arrived in Japan earlier in the day for a summit with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on a highly symbolic trip signaling a significant warming of long-strained relations following the resolution of a row over wartime forced labor.
The two-day visit is South Korea's first bilateral presidential trip to the neighboring nation in 12 years, an illustration showing how long the relations between the two countries have been frayed over historical disputes.
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