This past Wednesday, Japan downgraded South Korea’s preferential trade status – requiring Japanese manufacturers to now apply for approval for technology-related goods to be exported to South Korea. Japan claims the trade status of South Korea was needed over concerns the technology could be used for military purposes. Prior to Wednesday, exports to South Korea required less compliance as a preferential trade partner. South Korea also announced their action to downgrade Japan’s trade status to take effect later this month (September).
As previously posted on this blog, South Korea accuses Japan using trade as retaliation in responses to court decision granting compensation to individuals who were victims of forced labor during Japan’s occupation of Korea. The AP reports leadership from both countries are working on an agreement.
Citizens from both countries have also joined in street protests and boycotting goods from either country.
According to Reuters, President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met last Sunday at the G7 Summit – agreeing that the current duties on cars remain at 2.5% for passenger vehicles and 25% for pickup trucks from Tokyo. Previously, the US did threaten Japan with additional duties of 25% on auto exports to the US under the premise of national security.
U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday said the United States would not imminently impose new tariffs on autos imported from Japan as the largest and third-largest economies continue their trade negotiations. Japan would also agree to greater market access for US agricultural products such as beef and to increase purchases of US corn.
Japan and South Korea trade war tensions rise.
As previously mentioned on this blog, Japan and South Korea are in a trade dispute arising out of a court case granting South Koreans compensation for forced-labor during Japan’s colonial occupation of South Korea.
In response, Japan placed export regulations on chemicals exported to South Korea that are vital for South Korea’s tech industry. The restrictions on exports to South Korea are to take place in August unless an agreement is reached between the two sides. It appears no deal will be reached as both politicians have seen their approval ratings rise since the disputes.
Back in May of this year, a South Korean court sided with Korean wartime laborers to be compensated for their forced labor during Japan’s occupation of the Korean Peninsula. The court ordered seizure of assets belonging to Nippon Steel and Nachi-Fujikoshi to pay compensation to wartime laborers during 1910 to 1945.
In early July, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government announced the restrictions on sales to South Korea of materials necessary to produce vital components in high-tech manufacturing. The restrictions include three products: (1) fluorinated polyimides, used in smartphone displays; (2) photoresists, used to transfer circuit patterns on to semiconductor wafers; and (3) hydrogen fluoride, used as an etching gas when making chips.
Prime Minister Abe has denied the export controls are retailiation for the seizing of assets, but the netizens on both sides are battling it out online.
For example, the #BoycottJapan is trending in South Korea with South Korean netizens proposing South Korean alternatives to popular Japanese brands. Some South Koreans are posting their cancellation confirmations of previously arranged trips to Japan. In addition to individuals, the Korean Supermarkets Alliance, an organization representing more than 23,000 stores, said it would temporarily halt sales of Japanese products, including beers by Asahi and Kirin Holdings Co., and Japan Tobacco Inc.’s Mild Seven cigarettes.
Will be interesting to see what happens next.
Maybe the US courts can also do something – I’m still waiting for Japan to atone for their slaughter of civilian men, women, children in China and throughout Asia, the forced human trafficking of women to be used as “comfort women” and the killing of prisoners of war from the US, Australia, New Zealand and the rest of the world. Not holding my breath my breath though – one can only hope Japan gets payback for the pain and agony they caused the world.
According to the Japan Times, in an effort to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership multilateral free trade pact (formerly the Trans-Pacific Partnership), Taiwan will lower its tariffs on Japanese sake from 40% to 20% along with reductions in tariffs for Japanese farm and fishery products. The reduction in tariffs is to demonstrate Taiwan’s commitment for free trade.
While open to free trade, Taiwan still does not allow imports from five Japanese prefectures impacted by the Fukushima nuclear power station crisis that occurred in 2011.
Will post any updates if and when Taiwan is admitted to the TPP.
During the UN meeting this week, the US and Japan agreed on Wednesday to negotiate a separate bilateral trade agreement between the two countries. While Japan is part of the Trans Pacific Partnership, the agreement by Japan to negotiate may be an effort to avoid the risk of tariffs on Japanese goods to the US – especially automobiles. This agreement to negotiate is a shift from Japanese economic policy as in the past Japan has not expressed interest in talking to the US.
According to Retuers, Japan and Peru’s foreign ministers are working on an early implementation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership to promote free trade between the two countries. Currently there are 11 members to the TPP. While an agreement has been reached between the parties, the implementation is not yet effective until enough countries ratify the agreement.
Japan has already ratified the pact, but 5 more countries need to ratify before the TPP will take effect.
One main reason for the Japan, Peru efforts may be due the year 2019 marking the 120th anniversary of Japanese immigration to Peru.
If you have any TPP questions or other trade, import, or customs questions, contact David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As reported by the Kyodo News – the Japanese government enacted a law to ratify the TPP free trade deal. As you are aware, Japan and 10 other nations (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam) continued negotiations with the free trade deal after the United States withdrew. The TPP deal requires at least 6 member countries to ratify the pact before it takes effect.
More TPP updates as they become available. If you have any trade or customs questions, please feel free to contact David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at email@example.com.