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According to Yonhap News,
(SEOUL=Yonhap News) South Korea's exports of industrial materials, parts and equipment set a new record in the first seven months of 2021, data showed Wednesday, on the back of the country's efforts to beef up competitiveness of the key industrial sectors amid the prolonged trade row with Japan.
Outbound shipments from the sectors came to US$203.2 billion in the January-July period, up 23.3 percent on-year, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
Imports also moved up 25.5 percent over the period to reach $140.5 billion, with the trade balance reaching $19.7 billion, the data showed.
The ministry said South Korea depended on Japan for around 15.8 percent of its imports of industrial materials, parts and equipment over the first seven months of 2021, marking an all-time low level.
South Korea and Japan have been at loggerheads since July 2019, when Tokyo imposed tighter regulations on exports to Seoul of three materials -- resist, etching gas and fluorinated polyimide -- that are critical for the production of semiconductors and flexible displays. Japan later removed South Korea from its list of trusted trading partners.
Japan claims South Korea did not effectively control sensitive items that could be used for military purposes.
South Korea views the Japanese moves as retaliation against 2018 South Korean Supreme Court rulings ordering Japanese firms to compensate South Korean victims of forced labor during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
Amid the protracted tension, South Korea unveiled a blueprint to foster industrial materials, parts and equipment industries last year, which centers on spending around 5 trillion won through 2022 to develop home-grown technologies and ease its reliance on Japan in the three segments.
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Source: Yonhap News (September 8, 2021)