Seoul’s filing of complaint with Tokyo over trade row a ‘good thing,’ WTO economist
SEOUL-- The chief economist at the World Trade Organization (WTO) has called South Korea's recent filing of a complaint with the global trade body over Japan's export curbs a "good thing."
Robert Koopman said South Korea should try to "use things like the WTO" to try to bring countries together to reach agreement on how to navigate uncertain times.
"That's a good thing, I think. Trying to use the WTO's existing systems to resolve disputes -- I think that's what it's there for. I'm glad to see it's being used," Koopman said in a recent interview with Yonhap News Agency in Seoul, referring to South Korea's filing of a complaint with the WTO.
Earlier this month, South Korea filed a complaint with the WTO on Japan's export curbs in July against three materials -- resist, etching gas and fluorinated polyimide -- that are critical for the production of semiconductors and flexible displays.
Japan later removed South Korea from its "whitelist" of trusted trading partners in apparent retaliation against last year's South Korean Supreme Court rulings ordering Japanese firms to compensate South Korean victims of forced labor during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
South Korea claimed Japan's measure is a discriminatory act directly targeting it and was politically motivated following the court rulings.
Koopman said South Korea is getting some positive effects as a result of the trade conflict in terms of trade diversion but also some negative effects in terms of its markets being disrupted.
The Japanese move has sparked concerns of a disruption of global supply chains for semiconductors and other key industrial products.
South Korea -- home to Samsung Electronics Co., the world's largest memory chipmaker, and its smaller rival SK hynix Inc. -- accounted for more than 60 percent of the global memory market in 2018.
South Korean chips are used around the world in a wide range of products such as computers, smartphones, tablets, electronic appliances and cars.
Koopman said he doesn't know what the outcome will be from South Korea's filing of a complaint over Japan's export curbs or when a result will come out.
"It is a process that has worked for so many years now. Let's hope it continues to work," he said.
Japan has agreed to start consultations with South Korea. The two neighbors are expected to hold their first consultations over the issue in October, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
If the two fail to narrow their differences, the WTO Dispute Settlement Body will establish a panel to look deeper into the case. The entire process is expected to take more than three years, experts said.
Source: Yonhap News Agency