每日跟讀#659: Japan-South Korea trade spat continues to intensify
Antagonisms between South Korea and Japan, already at a boiling point, deepened with Tokyo’s decision on Aug. 2 to expand controls over exports of sensitive materials by dropping its neighbor from a “white list” of 27 countries granted preferential trade status. The implications of the decision have rippled across the high-tech sector, further shaking up supply chains already rattled by US-China trade tensions.
In retaliation, mere hours after Japan’s move, South Korea announced its intention to remove Japan from its “white list” of trusted trading partners.
Of the three sensitive materials targeted, Japan supplies about 90 percent of the fluorinated polyimides, 90 percent of photoresists and 40 percent of hydrogen fluoride used by South Korean companies, Fitch Ratings said, citing the Korean International Trade Association.
As of July 4, Japanese companies need case-by-case approvals to export to South Korea the three materials, which are used to make semiconductors and displays used in smartphones and other high-tech devices. With the loss of South Korea’s “white country” status, that requirement will apply to dozens more products on a list of items that potentially could be converted to weapons, according to a Japanese trade ministry document.
Japan’s trade ministry says Seoul has undermined a “relationship of trust,” including export controls, with lax controls on re-exports. South Korea denies this. Meanwhile, tensions have risen with some South Koreans calling for boycotts of Japanese products.
South Korea’s trade ministry has acknowledged that from 2015 to March 2019 the government detected 156 cases of unauthorized exports of sensitive materials that could be used for military purposes. A report by the Japanese network Fuji TV that cited government data said the illegal shipments included thermos-cameras, carbon fibers, zirconium and sodium cyanide, among other items, and went to countries like China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Iran, Syria, Turkey and Sri Lanka.
The tightening controls are adding to uncertainty for technology manufacturers. According to IHS Markit, in 2018 Korean firms SK Hynix and Samsung Electronics supplied 61 percent of memory components used in various electronics, relying heavily on Japanese suppliers. “If restrictions remain, Korean chipmakers‘ production lines and therefore global semiconductor supply chains are likely to be disrupted. Korean chipmakers are major actors in global semiconductor supply chains,” Fitch said in a recent report.
緊縮的控制措施給科技廠商增加了不確定性：經濟預測機構 IHS Markit 表示，在二○一八年，全球百分之六十一的記憶元件是由南韓公司SK海力士及三星電子所製造，以供各類電子產品使用，而這些南韓公司極度仰賴日本所供應的原料。惠譽在最近的一份報告中表示：「韓國晶片製造商是全球半導體供應鏈的要角。如果貿易限制仍然存在，南韓晶片製造商的生產線以及全球半導體供應鏈可能會斷裂」。
Adding another layer of ambiguity to the diplomatic dispute, Tokyo also has expressed dissatisfaction over demands for compensation for people forced to work for Japanese companies before and during World War II, an issue Japan says it settled under a 1965 treaty normalizing relations.
Japan and South Korea are both important hosts for US military bases in East Asia, but they’ve been bickering for years over a territorial dispute and over South Korean demands for more contrition and compensation from Japan for its use of forced labor and sexual abuse of Korean women in military brothels during the Japanese occupation of the Korean peninsula in the early 20th century. Until recently, such issues had not affected trade between the two countries, both of which depend heavily on exports.
Source article: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/lang/archives/2019/08/06/2003719968/2
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