It has been confirmed that the United States said that National security matters are not to be judged under the World Trade Organization dispute settlement system, speaking of the complaint the South Korean government filed with the WTO over Japan’s trade restrictions. These remarks will likely cause controversy as they could be interpreted in favor of Japan.
“Only Japan can judge for the Japanese people what is necessary to protect Japan’s national security interests,” Washington said in a Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) meeting on Wednesday in Geneva, Switzerland, according to the minutes uploaded on the WTO website on Monday. “This surge in litigation (related to national security measures) poses serious risks to the WTO, threatening to enmesh this Organization in national security matters it has wisely avoided for over 70 years.”
These remarks imply that Tokyo’s trade restrictions are national security matters that cannot be adjudicated by the WTO.
Seoul’s stance is that these remarks do not signify Washington’s support for Japan. It believes that the United States has simply reiterated its stance in the ongoing steel disputes with the European Union (EU).
However, some experts argue that Washington’s statement would have a considerable impact on the trade disputes between South Korea and Japan. “Regardless of the first ruling, it will be difficult for either South Korea or Japan to appeal as the Appellate body will likely end up being a mere procedural step,” said Choi Won-mok, law professor of Ewha Womans University. “Washington made it clear that security measures should be resolved between the countries involved, not by the WTO.”
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