Sogang University professor Lee Duk-hwan remarked on Aug. 12 that discussions regarding South Korea’s competitiveness enhancement in the materials and components industry have to start from understanding the international trade structure and the nature of science and technology.
“Hydrogen fluoride, which is subject to Japan’s export restrictions, is obtained by refining anhydrous hydrofluoric acid, a product of a fluorite-sulfuric acid reaction, and most fluorite, sulfuric acid and anhydrous hydrofluoric acid are produced in China,” he said, adding, “In other words, we have to keep importing fluorite and sulfuric acid from China or import low-purity hydrogen fluoride from China for processing even if we succeed in domestically producing hydrogen fluoride.” He continued to say that a complete domestic production of hydrogen fluoride cannot be realized and less dependence on Japan for the material means nothing but more reliance on China.
Dong-eui University professor Lee Hong-bae also pointed out that Japan’s high value-added materials and components cannot be replaced within a short period. “Even if South Korea’s technological strength reaches 99.5 percent of Japan’s within 10 years, the remaining 0.5 percent can remain the core competitiveness of Japan,” he mentioned, adding, “Medium technology-centered production cooperation, private-public cooperation for R&D investment, joint corporation establishment, and so on can be solutions to the challenge.”
Hanyang University professor Kwak Roh-sung, in the meantime, pointed out that differences related to chemical substance evaluation and management regulations have led to the gap between South Korea’s and Japan’s materials and components industries. “The regulations are much tighter in South Korea, and both existing and new substances must be reported in South Korea whereas only new substances are subject to the obligation in Japan and the United States,” he explained, continuing, “No less than 1,940 chemical substances are currently controlled by the Chemicals Control Act of South Korea whereas the same act of Japan covers 562.”