South Korea's trade ministry announced Monday that it has decided to remove Japan from its 29-country whitelist of trusted trade partners that are given preferential treatment on over 17-hundred strategic items.
"We need to put an export control system in place given that it's hard to work closely with countries that continuously violate basic principles of export control or that run their systems inappropriately."
Korea had put its export partners into two groups: Group A for countries like the U.S. and Canada, which are signatories to four major international export agreements including the Wassenaar Arrangement; and Group B for other countries including China.
But now group A will be divided into A1 and A2, plus group B, making it a total of three groups.
The trade ministry says Japan will fall into group A2 as a country whose export control systems go against international export control agreements.
Group A2 will face tighter export controls, tantamount in principle to those faced by group B, so Korean exporters will not get blanket permission to ship certain strategic items to Japan.
Korean companies shipping to countries listed in A2 will have to submit five different documents instead of three for individual items.
The approval process will also take around 15 days, up from the current five.
The changes will go into effect not immediately but around September, after a gathering of public opinion for 20 days.
The South Korean government's announcement comes 10 days after Tokyo removed Seoul from its whitelist, making around 11-hundred items vulnerable to stricter export curbs.
But at the same time, the trade ministry added that Seoul is ready to discuss the issue anytime and anywhere with Japan upon its request during the opinion-gathering process, leaving the door open to negotiations.
Kim Hyesung, Arirang News.