S. Korea drops WTO trade complaint against Japan, begins process for 'white list' reinstatement
SEOUL, March 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Thursday completed procedures to drop a complaint it filed with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against Japan over Tokyo's trade curbs as it began domestic procedures to put Japan back onto its "white list" of trusted trade partners, the industry ministry said.
The moves are in line with Seoul's effort to improve relations with the neighboring country long marred by historic and diplomatic rows stemming from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rules of the Korean Peninsula.
Seoul's industry ministry said that it withdrew the WTO complaint it filed in 2019 against Japan's tighter regulations on exports to Seoul of three materials -- fluorinated polyimide, photoresist and hydrogen fluoride -- that are critical for the production of semiconductors and flexible displays.
The export curbs were seen as Japan's apparent retaliation against the South Korean Supreme Court rulings in 2018 that ordered Japanese companies to pay compensation to victims of Japan's wartime forced labor, and Tokyo vowed to lift them during last week's summit meeting between President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
The ministry also announced a revision to government rules on exports and imports of strategic items as a first step to put Japan back onto the list of nations with a fast-track trade status.
The Seoul government removed Japan from its white list in 2019, requiring tough screening in trading "strategic items" that could potentially be diverted for military use, after Japan removed South Korea from its "white list" of trusted trading partners.
Currently, a total of 28 nations, including the United States, Britain and France, are on South Korea's trade white list.
Following last week's summit meeting, Seoul and Tokyo agreed to have close consultations on reinstating each other to their respective white lists.
Japan's reinstatement to the South Korean list is expected to take around two months, given necessary administrative procedures, according to Trade Minister Ahn Duk-geun. Yoon has called for shortening the period to advance the bilateral relationship in a swift manner.
Japan did not make public its timeframe for the pledges.
The series of reconciliatory measures came after the Yoon government announced plans earlier this month to compensate victims of Japan's wartime forced labor without asking Japan for contributions despite strong opposition by the opposition party and victims.
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