With Tokyo’s continued silence on Seoul’s call to lift export curbs, the South Korean government announced on Tuesday that it will reopen a complaint to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
“Our government has decided to resume the dispute settlement process at the WTO over Japan’s export controls on three industrial items after temporarily halting the process on Nov. 22 last year,” said Na Seung-sik, deputy minister of Trade, Industry and Energy.
Seoul appears to have concluded that Tokyo has no will to resolve the trade issue and normal dialogue between the two countries, which was a condition in halting the WTO action, is not taking place. South Korea earlier called on Japan to clarify its stance on the export curbs by the end of May, but to no avail.
The South Korean government will soon resume the WTO complaint by asking the organization to set up a dispute settlement panel. The South Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said it will inform the international community of the unfairness of Japan’s export control measures through its WTO action but added it will continue to engage in bilateral dialogue with Japan.
“It is regrettable that South Korea unilaterally made the decision (to reopen the dispute settlement process),” said Japan’s Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi on Tuesday, adding that whether to remove export control measures should be determined through bilateral dialogue.
Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Kajiyama Hiroshi reiterated Japan’s position that whether to ease export controls will be decided taking into consideration domestic companies and the export management system of the South Korean side. He also argued that bilateral dialogue is taking place well.
But even after the process is resumed, a rocky road is expected ahead for South Korea since it usually takes two years until the first ruling is made and six of the seven WTO appeals judge seats are currently vacant.
Ae-Jin Ju firstname.lastname@example.org