Japan and South Korea advance in trade ahead of their summit

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and his wife Kim Keon Hee arrive at Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport, Thursday, March 16, 2023. Yoon and Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida try to settle disputes milestones and rebuild economic and security ties at their meeting on Thursday, the first summit between the two countries in more than a decade. (Yuya Shino/Kyodo News via AP)

TOKYO (AP) — Japan and South Korea have agreed on measures to resolve a trade dispute, one of several disagreements the two countries’ leaders were trying to resolve at a much-anticipated summit on Thursday.

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol were due to meet later in Tokyo in an attempt to address disputes over their history and quickly rebuild their countries’ economic and security ties. A North Korean missile launch and encounters between Chinese and Japanese ships in contested waters earlier that day showed what was at stake.

South Korean Commerce Minister Lee Chang-yang said that after negotiations this week Japan has agreed to lift export controls on South Korea, which will withdraw its complaint to the World Trade Organization when the restrictions are lifted.

For its part, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry admitted progress on export controls and said Japan would respond to Seoul’s decision to withdraw its WTO complaint by dropping restrictions against South Korea and restoring the situation it had. the country before July 2019.

The countries will continue to talk about restoring its status as preferred trading partner after downgrading in 2019, Lee’s ministry said.

Japan’s export controls affected materials used in semiconductors and for organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays used in televisions and cell phones.

The two countries, which have often clashed over their interpretation of history, are trying to form a united front with their mutual ally the United States, spurred on by their common concern over belligerent North Korea and a more powerful China. Its summit is held as Northeast Asia is divided into blocs.


Associated Press writers Hyung-jin Kim and Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul, South Korea contributed to this report.

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