Photo Credit: IISD

South Korea Seek WTO’s Intervention Over Export Curbs By Japan

South Korea have now took up the issue of Japanese exports curbs to WTO. Since July, Japan and South Korea have been engaged in trade wars that include both the countries removing each other from the whitelist of preferential trading partners. South Korea have also ended the GSMIA (General Security of Military Information Agreement) with Japan that had enabled sharing of sensitive military information against North Korea.

Japan had tightened the restrictions of exports of three of its chemicals that is essential for making memory chip and displays and which was widely used by Korean companies such as LG and Samsung. Calling the exports restrictions as discriminatory practice, South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee is reported to have said that the shortage of memory chips manufactured by LG and Samsung have brought instability in the global economy.A bilateral consultation at the WTO level is in the offing, said Yoo Myung-hee. Japan is also reportedly of the view for a WTO level meet vis-a-vis South Korea because of the ‘loss of trust’ and South Korea’s ‘improper handling of sensitive materials’. The WTO is expected at the most to take 15 months before a ruling is passed.

The fallout was a result of a South Korean Supreme court ruling that have asked for wartime reparation from Japan. (Between 1910 to 1945, South Korea was a colony of Japan.) Japan reiterated that all wartime reparation have been paid in a 1965 agreement with Japan, wherein, it is reported that Japan had paid 800 million USD in grant and cheap loans to South Korea.Meanwhile, the Supreme Court in South Korea have said that the 1965 agreement doesn’t include compensation claimed by individuals affected by the Japanese militarism and abuse.

Considering that South Korea and Japan are democracies, driven by market economies and US allies, it is said to be inconvenient for US of a South Korea-Japan spat in the midst of a nuclear-armed North Korea and a dominant China.