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S. Korea, Japan begin talks on corporate exchanges, trade in earnest after summit

March 30, 2023 - 10:36 By Yonhap
This file photo shows South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol (center) speaking during the South Korea-Japan Business Roundtable at the Japan Business Federation, or Keidanren, in Tokyo on Mar. 17. (Yonhap)

Some 100 government and corporate officials from South Korea and Japan held a meeting Thursday on trade and new industry cooperation, the first major meeting after the two sides vowed to improve diplomatic and economic ties earlier this month, Seoul's industry ministry said.

They discussed ways to boost cooperation in new industry sectors and economic exchanges in the trade meeting in Seoul, co-hosted by the Korea International Trade Association and the Korea-Japan Economic Association, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

The meeting came two weeks after South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida agreed to improve the countries' strained relationship stemming from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of Korea.

"It is necessary for companies of the two nations to strengthen cooperation on supply chains of advanced industries, net-zero goals and making inroads into new markets," Deputy Trade Minister Jeong Dae-jin said during the meeting.

Separately, Industry Minister Lee Chang-yang held talks with the chiefs of nine Japanese companies, including chemical firm Toray Industries Inc., and asked for their greater investment in South Korea.

The ministry said five additional meetings, meant to reinvigorate bilateral economic and industrial exchanges, and involving around 400 companies from the two nations, will be held in the first half of this year.

According to a recent survey by KITA, 63.6 percent of the 187 South Korean trade firms said the recent Seoul-Tokyo summit is expected to have positive impacts on business.

Japan accounted for 6 percent of South Korea's total trade last year, far lower than the that with other neighboring countries. The comparable figure with China came to 21.9 percent.

Last week, Japan lifted export curbs on key industry materials to South Korea, which had been in place since July 2019 in apparent retaliation against the South Korean Supreme Court rulings in 2018 that ordered Japanese companies to pay compensation to victims of Japan's wartime forced labor.

South Korea withdrew a complaint it filed with the World Trade Organization on the issue, and the two nations agreed to put each other back onto their respective "whitelists" of trusted trading partners. (Yonhap)