Korea notifies WTO on China

Korea notifies WTO on China

While Lotte is suffering the most from China's retaliatory measures over South Korea's deployment of a THAAD missle system - with nearly 90 of 99 Lotte Mart outlets in China temporarily closed - other firms exporting to the country are struggling with customs clearance procedures that have become overly scrupulous for Korean products.

South Korea and the United States say the sole goal of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system is to guard against missile launches from North Korea, but China says that its powerful radar could penetrate into its territory.

The complaint isn't regarded as legal action, as it is more a request for the organization to check if China is upholding trade agreements fairly, according to an unnamed trade ministry official, as quoted by Reuters.

The Seoul government appealed to the WTO service council on March 17 to determine if Chinese measures on South Korea's retail and tourism industries violate the organisation's regulations, said Trade Minister Joo Hyung-hwan during a parliamentary session.

Joo hinted at the possibility that China may not admit it is taking retaliatory measures against the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad) anti-missile system but that authorities are gathering evidence and will also look into the unfair treatment of South Korean companies in China. Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho has continued to say that he is aware of the problem but that it is hard to take action at this time.

Beijing has forced dozens of South Korean retail stores in the country to shut their doors and banned Chinese tour groups from visiting the South.

China is the South's largest trading partner and a major consumer of South Korean electronic gadgets, cosmetics and cultural products including popular TV dramas.

Even though the Korean government said it filed a complaint to the WTO, it does not necessarily mean it officially sued or filed disputes to the worldwide organization.

Beijing has never explicitly linked the restrictions to the THAAD deployment, but the South Korean government has offered cheap loans and extended deadlines on existing debt to help businesses that have been affected and has pushed to diversify trade markets.

"We support normal business and other exchanges between China and South Korea", Hua told a daily news briefing.

Subsequently, Beijing said THAAD would lack initiative to respond and calm the Korean peninsula tensions.

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