South Korea's industry minister on Sunday vowed to provide any necessary support to local firms to help them cope with Japan's economic retaliation and export restrictions on key industrial materials.
"The government will utilize all necessary assets and capabilities to ease local firms' burdens," Industry Minister Sung Yun-mo said during a meeting with representatives from different industries.
The remark came after Japan announced the removal of South Korea from its list of trusted trading partners last week, a move which could affect a broad range of industrial materials.
Tokyo has begun implementing tougher restrictions on South Korea-bound shipments of three key materials vital for the production of semiconductors and displays since last month, in apparent retaliation over a local court's ruling that ordered Japanese firms to compensate for wartime forced labor.
The government also vowed to make efforts to bolster the country's competitiveness in the materials and parts industries to cope with the prolonged dispute with Japan.
Meanwhile, South Korea's Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee made the country's case during bilateral talks with her counterparts from a number of countries such as China and India on the sidelines of a regional economic meeting aimed at forging a 16-nation free trade deal known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
"On the occasion of bilateral talks, most of the countries deeply shared concerns that the Japanese move could hurt the multilateral trade order and spread unilateralism," Yoo wrote Sunday in a Facebook message after returning home from Beijing, where the RCEP meeting was held.
Some of them also stressed that Japan should assume global responsibility as a supplier of major materials, saying that the Japanese move could damage the supply network in the region as well as their countries, Yoo said.
The RCEP, if signed, will create an economic bloc whose member countries have half of the world's population and almost 30 percent of the world's output and trade.
The member countries are South Korea, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, India and the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations -- Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam. (Yonhap)