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Japan risks harm to world trade

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By Troy Stangarone

When I started this column a year ago, I touched upon the importance of international trade rules for South Korea's economic future.

While we still often think of trade in terms of lowering tariff barriers, the rules and norms that allow goods and services to flow freely and predictably are increasingly important. Unfortunately, adherence to those rules have grown weaker over the past year and the current standoff with Japan is symptomatic of a worrying trend.

With some exceptions states have largely refrained from using national security exemptions to restrict trade in recent decades, but over the past year national security has increasingly been viewed as a way to impose tariffs or restrict trade in the pursuit of other objectives.

Regrettably, the United States which has led the way in developing the current rules-based system that allowed more nations to prosper than at perhaps any time in human history has been leading the way in utilizing questionable national security rationales to achieve other objectives. Not surprisingly, Japan is learning from the United States.

Japan's decision to restrict critical exports needed for South Korea's electronics industry bears a striking resemblance to the U.S. decision to place Huawei on the........

© The Korea Times