S. Korea says mobile phones, other consumer goods not under U.S.’ export curbs on Russia

SEOUL-- Mobile phones, cars and other consumer goods are not subject to the United States' sweeping restrictions on exports to Russia, South Korea's trade ministry said Thursday.

Last week, the U.S. government announced the Foreign Direct Product Rule (FDPR) for "all of Russia" as part of its export controls to block Russia's access to global high-tech products and other major items, such as semiconductors, over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The measure calls on companies to receive a license from the U.S. for tech-related items using U.S. technology before they can be shipped to Russia, which is feared to affect major South Korean exporters, as they use U.S. technology and software.

During a working-level meeting between Seoul and Washington held Tuesday, the U.S. Commerce Department confirmed that smartphones, cars, washers and other consumer goods are exceptions to the FDP rules as long as they are not shipped to military-related users, South Korea's Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said.

South Korean firms could also get approval for planned shipment to their factories in Russia through the U.S.' case-by-case examinations, according to the ministry.

South Korea is seeking to receive an exemption from the FDP rules, as it was not included in the U.S.' exception list of 32 nations.

Meanwhile, the government said it will devise measures to help resolve difficulties facing exporters and South Koreans residing in Russia, after Seoul decided to suspend financial transactions with Russia's seven major banks and affiliates in line with international sanctions against Moscow.

The measure to exclude Russia from the SWIFT global payment network will come into force on March 12.

Local banks' exposure to Russia, including potentially risky loans and investment, accounted for 0.4 percent of their total external exposure, so the sanctions will have limited impact on the country's financial sector.

But the government has received more than 400 complaints and questions from companies regarding the recent export controls and payments, the ministry said, vowing to extend active support and to strengthen the monitoring over growing uncertainties and possible ripple effects.

"We will conduct a survey of mid- to small-sized exporters this week to assess their damage and to come up with supportive measures," the finance ministry said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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