Trade ‘whitelist’ return for S. Korea, Japan likely in at least 2 months: trade chief

It is expected to take at least two months for South Korea and Japan to put each other back onto their respective list of nations given preferential treatment in trade due to necessary procedures, Seoul's trade chief said Monday.

Last week, the two nations agreed to have close consultations on reinstating each other to their respective "whitelist" of trusted trading partners during a summit meeting held in Tokyo in an effort to normalize their relationship long marred by wartime history and other issues.

In 2019, Japan had removed South Korea from the list of nations with a fast-track trade status after it imposed export restrictions on key industrial materials, essential for chips and displays, in apparent retaliation for the South Korean Supreme Court's ruling in 2018 that ordered Japanese companies to pay compensation to victims of Japan's forced labor during its 1910-45 colonial rule of Korea.

The exclusion from the list means tough screening in importing hundreds of "strategic items" that could potentially be diverted for military use.

In a tit-for-tat move, South Korea delisted Japan from its trade partners given preferential treatment.

"It will take at least two months for the two nations to carry out due administrative procedures, such as a revision to related regulations," Trade Minister Ahn Duk-geun told reporters.

"We will recover the whitelist (for Japan) as soon as possible to make it a chance to restore trust and work closely together down the road," he added.

Last week, Japan lifted the export curbs, and South Korea withdrew a complaint it filed with the World Trade Organization against Japan on the issue.

A series of reconciliatory measures came after the Yoon Suk Yeol government announced plans earlier this month to compensate victims of Japan's wartime forced labor without asking Japan for contributions.

Seoul and Tokyo voiced expectations for the moves to boost bilateral exports and investment, and to ease business uncertainties, though South Korea has been quite successful in ensuring supply chains of major industry materials, parts and equipment on its own through the diversification of import channels and the development of homegrown technologies.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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