Japan to Restore S. Korea’s Preferred Trade Status

Jung Yeon-je/Pool via REUTERS
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during their meeting at the presidential office in Seoul on May 7.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The government decided at a Cabinet meeting Tuesday to revise an ordinance to restore preferred trade status for South Korea under its list of Group A countries, or trusted trading partners formerly known as “white” nations.

The revision will take effect on July 21, fully removing Japan’s strict export controls on South Korea, which were introduced in summer 2019. Japan’s trade ties with South Korea will be normalized for the first time in some four years on the back of improving bilateral relations.

In late April, Japan’s industry ministry said it had confirmed that South Korea’s export controls on goods and technologies that could be converted to military use are as effective as Japan’s.

The ministry later sought public opinions about revising an ordinance under the foreign exchange and foreign trade law to put South Korea back on the list of Group A countries.

The move came after Japan relaxed in late March its restrictions on exports of hydrogen fluoride and other semiconductor materials to South Korea.

Group A nations are those recognized as managing exports appropriately to avoid the proliferation of goods capable of being used for weapons of mass destruction. They qualify for simplified export procedures.

Japan deprived South Korea of the preferential trade treatment in August 2019 amid deterioration in bilateral relations over the issue of wartime labor.