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South Korea removes Japan from ‘white list’

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe listens to a reporter's question at his official residence in Tokyo, on October 30, 2018, following a South Korean court ruling ordering Japanese firm Nippon Steel to pay compensation for war time forced labor. (Photo by AFP)

South Korea says it has approved plans to drop Japan from its "white list" of countries, which benefit from fast-track trade status, a tit-for-tat move that intensifies a diplomatic and trade spat between the two countries.

Tighter trade regulations that come into force Wednesday include longer permit application processes and additional paperwork. They will apply to South Korean exports to Japan related to weapons production, the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy said in a statement on Tuesday.

Relations between the two countries have deteriorated since a ruling by South Korea's Supreme Court last year that Japanese companies should compensate South Koreans who were conscripted as forced laborers during World War Two.

Japan announced in August that it was removing South Korea from its own "white list" of countries that have enjoyed minimum trade restrictions, citing an erosion of trust. In July, it imposed tighter controls on exports to South Korea of materials used to make smartphone chips, South Korea's top export item.

South Korea on Monday initiated a World Trade Organization dispute against Japan's latest export curbs. Under WTO rules, South Korea and Japan should meet within 30 days, and if these talks fail, South Korea can request adjudication by a dispute settlement panel.

(Source: Reuters)

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