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Japan gives first export approval to South Korea after tightened rules

SEOUL — The South Korean government said that Japan has allowed high-tech materials to be exported to South Korea in the first approval since the Shinzo Abe administration imposed export curbs.

Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon said Thursday that Japan had granted its first approval for exporting extreme ultraviolet photoresists to Korea a day earlier. EUV photoresists are one of the three materials that Japan restricted for export from July 4. It is a key material for Samsung’s chipmaking foundry business.

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“The government will continue to beef up its diplomatic efforts to restore from Japan’s economic attack,” he said during a related ministers’ meeting that had gathered to discuss the details of Japan’s new export regulations to take effect from Aug. 28.

But Japan did not specifically designate additional materials for export restriction, other than three items it announced on July 1, Lee added.

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Domestic industries viewed that Japan’s approval of the high-tech material export to South Korea in 34 days was intended to avoid criticisms from the international community, which have been mounting toward Japan after it introduced a new four-group classification system for its entrusted trade partners on Wednesday.

Based on the new classification announced by Japan’s Trade Ministry, Korea will be put to Group B from Aug. 28, which comprises countries that come under certain export control regimes that Tokyo must approve. For Group B countries, it can take up to 90 days for Japanese authorities to review export approval, whereas Group A countries enjoy trade benefits such as fast-track export clearance.

Meanwhile, President Moon Jae-in once again denounced Japan’s export restrictions, calling for a diplomatic resolution.

“One wonders what Japan can gain from such a unilateral and retaliatory trade measure. Even if there is a gain, it would be short-lived. It would eventually be a no-winner game with only victims including Japan itself,” he said.

Moon also criticized Japan for taking “antinomic” trade measures in an apparent retaliation over colonial era disputes with Seoul, saying that Japan has gained the most from global free trade and its economic retaliation should not come from a country that has actively argued for free trade rules for its benefit.

South Korea was the only country in Asia on Japan’s 27-member whitelist of countries, and became the first country to be removed from it.

Korean ministers related to economy, meanwhile, gathered to discuss further measures against Japan’s export restriction. Details of the meeting will be finalized and announced at a later date, the Trade Ministry explained.

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TAGS: Business, Export, Japan, South Korea, Trade
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