South Korea remains Japan’s third largest trade partner despite export curbs


Seoul:  South Korea remained Japan’s third-largest trading partner in July, despite Tokyo’s restrictions on exports to Seoul, data showed Monday.

According to the data by the Korea International Trade Association (KITA), Japan exported some 4.8 trillion won (US$4 billion) worth of goods to South Korea in July, accounting for 6.6 percent of Tokyo’s total exports.

Since July, Japan has tightened exports of key materials to South Korea in apparent retaliation over Seoul’s court rulings on compensation for wartime forced labor.

South Korea has blamed Tokyo for weaponizing trade in reprisal for Seoul’s handling of the matter stemming from Japan’s 1910-45 colonization of the Korean Peninsula.

In spite of the trade restrictions, Japan’s exports to South Korea grew 5.6 percent on month in July, outperforming Tokyo’s overall monthly export growth of 0.9 percent, according to the data.

The Japanese export curbs affected three materials — resist, etching gas and fluorinated polyimide — that are critical for the production of semiconductors and flexible displays.

But, the materials accounted for less than one percent of Japan’s exports to South Korea, the data showed.

In August, South Korea was also Japan’s third-largest trading partner, accounting for a 6.9 percent of Tokyo’s total exports, according to the Japanese government data.

Last month, Japan also removed South Korea from its list of trusted trade partners, while Seoul also did the same for Tokyo early this month.

Earlier this month, South Korea also filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) over Japan’s export curbs, upping the stakes in the unprecedented trade row between the two Asian neighbors.

South Korea’s trade ministry has said that Japan accepted its offer to hold a bilateral consultation to deal with the WTO complaint.


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