Seoul says will halt WTO dispute over Japan export curbs

Seoul says will halt WTO dispute over Japan export curbs

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA — South Korea said Monday it would halt its World Trade Organization complaint over Japanese export curbs, after announcing plans to compensate the victims of Japan’s forced wartime labour.

In 2019, Japan imposed export controls on key industrial materials needed for semiconductors and displays and removed South Korea from its “preferred trading nations” list.

At the time, experts said the moves were likely retaliation for a 2018 South Korean court ruling that Japanese companies should pay restitution to Korean forced labourers during World War II.

“The two governments have decided to swiftly carry out bilateral consultations related to the current issues on export regulations to return to the way things were before July 2019,” Seoul’s trade ministry said in a statement.

“The Korean government has decided to halt the WTO dispute process during the consultation,” the statement added.

The moves came shortly after South Korea announced plans on Monday to compensate victims of Japan’s forced wartime labour, aiming to end a “vicious cycle” in the Asian powers’ relations and boost ties to counter the nuclear-armed North.

South Korea’s trade ministry said it was not withdrawing the WTO complaint, which it said would depend on how the bilateral consultations progress.

In its complaint to the WTO, South Korea has said Tokyo’s export restrictions were a discriminatory act that violated WTO trade rules.


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