South Korea and Japan Agree to Discuss Trade War in December

Anti-Japan sticker
Anti-Japan sticker in South Korea

Published Nov 29, 2019 7:33 PM by The Maritime Executive

South Korea and Japan have agreed to discuss their on-going trade war in December.

The decision follows a meeting in Seoul between trade officials from the two nations. South Korea's Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said in a statement: "During the December meeting, the two countries plan to exchange opinions on various domestic and external situations related to export control." 

A preparatory meeting will be held in Vienna next week.

The conflict is the result of South Korea's expectations for compensation for forced labor and sexual slavery by Japan before and during World War II. Last year, the Supreme Court of South Korea ruled that 10 forced labor victims were able to claim compensation from many Japanese companies.

In September, South Korea officially removed Japan from its list of trusted trade partners. Japan downgraded its trading relationship with South Korea in August by taking it off a list of nations for which exports of industrial and high-tech products are fast-tracked.

Many South Koreans have been boycotting Japanese goods, including beer, cosmetics and cars, and tourism to Japan has also declined. No Japanese beer was exported to South Korea last month, an export industry that is usually worth over $7 million a year for the nation.

South Korea's Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced on November 1 that Korea’s exports in October decreased 14.7 percent to $46.8 billion from a year earlier. Imports saw a decline of 14.6 percent to $41.4 billion, resulting in a trade balance of a surplus of $5.4 billion. The decrease in exports was largely due to the U.S.-China trade war and other external uncertainties, as well as the stagnant semiconductor sector and a slowdown in the global economy.