Moon visits high-tech material maker amid trade fight with Japan
SEOUL, Aug. 7 (Yonhap) President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday demonstrated his administrations resolve, with action, to help South Korean firms overtake Japanese ones in the supply of high-tech materials amid an escalating trade fight between the Northeast Asian powers.
He visited SBB TECH Co., based in Gimpo, just northwest of Seoul, which manufactures ceramic bearings and precision decelerators for use in robots.
Moons move followed a stream of his strongly worded statements against Japan for its retaliatory export restrictions.
He warned Tokyo that Seoul wont be defeated again and vowed full efforts to catch up with the neighboring country economically.
He stressed that the ongoing trade row can be an opportunity for some of South Koreas industries, which have heavily depended on supplies Japan, to raise their own competitiveness or diversify foreign contractors.
Last week, Japans Cabinet went ahead with the approval of plans to expel South Korea the so-called whitelist of favored trade partners in apparent reprisal for Seouls attitude on the wartime forced labor issue.
Hours ahead of Moons tour of the company, Japans Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry promulgated a related amendment to the Export Trade Management Ordinance.
South Korea has been categorized into the Group B of nations subject to a case-by-case review of offers to buy strategically sensitive components and other materials. The measure is to take effect on Aug. 28.
South Koreas businesses, including conglomerates, have relied much on Japan to obtain many high-tech materials in consideration of not just quality but also the speed and stability in supplies.
The Shinzo Abe administrations decision, however, revealed the venerability, uncertainty and instability in trade with Japan.
SBB TECH, founded in 1993, posted 9.2 billion won (US$7.5 million) in sales last year. With only 84 employees, it has developed robot-use harmonic decelerator technology for the first time in South Korea.
However, conglomerates here have continued to import the component Japan.
Alerted by Japans export curbs, the Moon government plans to expand support for local firms to develop technologies and mass-produce high-tech materials.