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Tuesday, November 19, 0:54 (UTC)

Japan, S.Korea to hold second round of WTO talks

Officials from Japan and South Korea are to hold their second round of trade talks as part of the World Trade Organization's dispute settlement process.

Japanese trade ministry official Junichiro Kuroda and his South Korean counterpart Chung Hae-kwan are due to meet on Tuesday in Geneva, Switzerland.

Seoul launched the WTO's dispute settlement procedure in September over Tokyo's tightened controls on exports of three high-tech materials to South Korea.

Japan maintains that the measure, introduced in July, is a necessary operational review to prevent its advanced technology from being diverted for military purposes.

It says Japan still allows exports of the sensitive materials to South Korea in cases where it finds no threat of potential military diversion. As a result, Japan believes the measure does not amount to restrictive trade practices banned by the WTO.

It adds that the WTO also allows certain exceptions to its rules on national security grounds.

South Korea argues that the export controls are a politically-motivated response to South Korean court rulings that found Japanese firms liable for the wartime use of Korean laborers.

It says the Japanese measure singles out South Korea and is discriminatory. It adds that Japan has only issued seven export permits in the three-month period since the controls were launched.

The two sides failed to narrow their differences in their first bilateral consultations at the WTO last month.

South Korea's Chung indicated on Monday that if talks break down again, his country may proceed to the next stage and seek the launch of a dispute resolution panel, which will effectively serve as a WTO court.

The second round of talks comes just days before a bilateral intelligence-sharing pact is set to expire on Saturday.

South Korea has said it may reconsider its decision to terminate the pact, known as GSOMIA, if Japan withdraws tighter export controls.

Japan has rejected the idea, saying that trade and intelligence-sharing are totally different matters.

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