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WTO to look into S. Korea-Japan trade feud

South Korea's "boycott Japan" movement is dealing a harsh blow to Japanese consumer goods.

The World Trade Organization's dispute settlement body will set up a panel to probe South Korea's complaint against Japan's export restrictions.

The decision was put off for a month due to Tokyo's opposition.

South Korea had called for Japan's removal of the export restrictions it imposed last year and claimed Japan failed to follow WTO agreements in administering laws and rulings about the export restrictions.

But as Japan remained unresponsive, South Korea reopened the WTO complaint in June.

According to South Korea's Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, the WTO will appoint panel members, receive written arguments, and listen to oral testimonies.

In July last year, Japan abruptly announced it would regulate exports to South Korea of the three materials critical for the chip and display industries: photoresist, etching gas, and fluorinated polyimide.

Japan later removed South Korea from its list of trusted trading partners.

Japan blamed South Korea for not adequately controlling the trade of sensitive items that can be utilized for military purposes in violation of international rules, but has not supported its allegations.

South Korea views Japan's export curbs as a retaliation for a court's decision that ordered Japanese companies to compensate Korean workers for wartime labor.

So far, Japan's retaliation is causing more damage to itself than South Korea.

In 2019, South Korea's exports to Japan went down 6.9 percent, while its imports plunged 12.9 percent.

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