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S. Korea files WTO suit over Japan export curbs

Jiji Press SEOUL (Jiji Press) — South Korea’s Trade, Industry and Energy Ministry said Wednesday that it has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization against Japan’s decision to tighten controls on exports of three semiconductor materials to the country.

South Korea requested bilateral talks with Japan under the WTO’s dispute settlement procedure.

In Tokyo, trade minister Hiroshige Seko told reporters that Japan has received a request from South Korea for bilateral talks.

It is clear that the Japanese measure is consistent with WTO rules, and Japan will respond to the complaint appropriately under the WTO’s dispute settlement procedure, Seko said.

At a news conference in Seoul, South Korean trade minister Yoo Myung-hee criticized the tightened export controls as a politically motivated step in connection with a South Korean Supreme Court ruling last October demanding that a Japanese company pay compensation to South Korean plaintiffs over wartime labor.

Yoo also said that the trade policy was a discriminatory measure that singled out South Korea, adding that the move goes against the WTO’s principle of most favored nation treatment.

On July 4, Japan required exporters of three semiconductor materials — resists, hydrogen fluoride and fluorinated polyimide — to South Korea to file for permits on an individual trade deal basis, citing security concerns over the Asian neighbor’s “poor” trade management.

South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon had previously said that Seoul would proceed smoothly with work to file a WTO complaint over the issue, and the announcement by Yoo made the move official.

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