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Business lobbying groups call out Japan

July 24,2019
Korea’s five major business lobbying groups sent an official statement to the Japanese government on Tuesday, urging it to withdraw restrictions on exports to Korea announced earlier this month.

In the statement, the groups said that Japan failed to show how the trust between Korea and Japan was “significantly undermined,” criticizing that Japan did not attempt to communicate with its trade partner before rolling out the restrictions, despite the gravity of the situation.

The letter was signed by the Korea International Trade Association, Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Korea Enterprises Federation, Korea Federation of SMEs and the Federation of Middle Market Enterprises of Korea.

On July 1, Japan announced export restrictions on three advanced materials - hydrogen fluoride, photoresists and fluorinated polyimide - essential for semiconductor and display production. It also announced that it would remove Korea from its so-called “white list” of 27 countries subject to preferential treatment on export processing.

Delivered to Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), the statement asked for the withdrawal of both measures.

“Implementing such changes to the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Act would not only hurt the mutual trust built up between the companies of both countries, but bring uncertainty to the trade and industry relations of Korea and Japan,” the statement said. “It will also bring frustration to the global value chain and have a negative effect on the global economy.”

The five lobbying groups stressed that Korea and Japan had formed a complementary trade relation over the last six decades - trade volume between the two surpasses $80 billion annually and both countries are in the other’s top three trade partners.

In its July 1 statement, METI said the “Japan-ROK relationship of trust including in the field of export control and regulation has been significantly undermined,” as an explanation to why it decided to tighten trade regulations against Korea.

“The update plan announced July 1 was a very unconventional measure considering the relationship between the two countries that’s based on principles of international cooperation and trust,” said the statement from Korea’s business associations.

“However the Japanese government did not suggest any concrete grounds or examples of how the relationship of trust was damaged. If the Japanese government truly believed that such a situation had occurred, we believe the right procedure was engaging in talks with local government or authorities based on evidence.”

The statement also mentioned that the favorable industry relations between Korea and Japan made major contributions to the global information and communications technology sector, adding that if the relationship returns to normal, they can continue to do so in the future.

BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]