South Korea has restored Japan’s preferred trade status, the South Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced on Monday through a government gazette.
The move comes three years after the two nations downgraded each other’s trade status amid a diplomatic row stemming from wartime labor and compensation, along with concerns over sharing sensitive technology.
The whitelisting will allow businesses involved in the export of strategic items to Japan to enjoy a shorter period of time for review and simpler paperwork to carry out the procedure. In particular, the review period for approval of strategic goods heading to Japan will now be shortened to five days from 15, while the number of required documents to three from five.
The ministry also said that the latest decision raised the number of nations enjoying preferential trade with South Korea to 29. The ‘white list’ now includes the United States, France and Britain.
Relations between the two nations significantly deteriorated in 2019 when Japan removed South Korea from its own preferential trade list, triggering mirror measures from Seoul. The conflict arose after the South Korean Supreme Court ruled that two Japanese companies had to pay compensation to Korean forced labor victims during Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule.
In March, the countries agreed to reinstate their ties after Seoul announced plans to remunerate the victims without requiring Japan’s contributions.
As the parties renewed trade talks last week, Japan removed restrictions that had previously been put on exports of fluorinated polyimide, photoresist and hydrogen fluoride to South Korea. The materials are vital for the production of semiconductors and displays.
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