Trade ministers meet amid North Korea tensions

Trade ministers from China, Japan and South Korea meet today in Beijing ahead of a trilateral summit between the countries’

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Xinhua News Agency

Trade ministers from China, Japan and South Korea meet today in Beijing ahead of a trilateral summit between the countries’ leaders on Tuesday.

Today’s talks will focus on free trade following Japan’s easing of export controls on photoresist (a crucial chemical for producing semiconductors) to South Korea yesterday. South Korean export controls directly affect the global semiconductor supply chain.

However, the trade issue will be overshadowed by security on the Korean peninsula, given rising tensions between North Korea and the US. Pyongyang’s year-end deadline for concession talks with Washington is imminent, and world leaders do not expect any real solution to manifest ahead of it.

The summit participants—especially China—are likely to work on delaying the deadline as all the three countries fear North Korea will carry out nuclear or missile tests next year, likely increasing instability in the region.

While progress on the North Korean front appears difficult, China is the only player with the clout to prompt change in Pyongyang’s position. South Korea may appeal to the US to consider concessions sooner rather than later.

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