Officials in the medical devices industry are on watch whether South Koreans’ boycott of Japanese products, sparked by Tokyo’s removal of Seoul from the list of trusted trading partners, will affect the sale of Japanese medical devices.
Some online communities in Korea posted a list of local hospitals using Japanese medical devices, persuading internet users not to visit the hospitals as part of the boycott movement.
However, other people commented on the post, opposing the spread of the boycott to medical devices. They said that medical devices can directly affect the health of patients and that the hospitals have used them before Japan’s export control.
Korea Medical Devices Industry Association (KMDIA) said the boycott would not have an immediate impact on the industry. However, to brace for a prolonged trade war between the two countries, the association is checking whether Korean buyers are shunning importing Japanese medical devices.
More than 30 Japanese manufacturers are operating Korean offshoots to import Japanese medical devices, according to KMDIA. Many other companies import parts and finished goods from Japan through contractors.
KMDIA said it was asking its member companies about what they import from Japan and how much stock they had.
“Until now, I don’t think Japan’s export control had a major impact on imports from Japan. We haven’t had any member firm’s inquiry about the issue,” an official at KMDIA said. “I think this is because we deal with medical devices, which are closely related to public health.”
“However, we don’t know how far the Japanese government’s control will go, and the Korean public could create a negative atmosphere about using Japanese medical devices. So, we are closely monitoring Japanese medical devices and components,” he added.
The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety has set up a task force to respond to Japan’s export control and find how it will affect each industry.
To prepare for a possibility that Tokyo could promulgate detailed rules of export regulations, the ministry opened an online center on its website to help Korean companies report their trading difficulties.
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