International trade rules

Export controls

What export controls limit international trade in defence and security articles? Who administers them?

With regard to export controls that limit international trade in defence and security articles, the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Act stipulates certain provisions relating to security trade controls, which are enforced by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Domestic preferences

What domestic preferences are applied to defence and security procurements? Can a foreign contractor bid on a procurement directly?

There is no mechanism for applying domestic preferences to defence and security procurements. For the acquisition of defence and security articles, a number of acquisition methods are currently adopted, including domestic development, international co-development or production, domestic production under licence, utilisation of civilian goods, import, etc. The appropriate method is selected depending on the characteristics of the particular defence and security articles in question. The Analysis and Assessment of the Acquisition Program, the new Acquisition Strategy Plan and Acquisition Plan published by ATLA on 31 August 2017, adopts a policy of domestic development, production and maintenance for certain items.

The Guidance for Bid and Contract (ATLA Public Notice No. 1 of 1 October 2015) contains provisions pursuant to which foreign business operators may apply for screening of eligibility for participation in tender, which indicates that it is possible for foreign companies to directly participate in procurement tender. However, in the case of procurement from a foreign company, this is usually done by a Japanese trading company on their behalf.

Favourable treatment

Are certain treaty partners treated more favourably?

There are no treaty partners that are treated more favourably.


Are there any boycotts, embargoes or other trade sanctions between this jurisdiction and others?


There are export controls that require the permission or approval of the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Defence and security articles that require permission include export of ‘weapons, articles related to weapons of mass destruction, articles related to conventional weapons and articles that are likely to be used for development, etc of weapons of mass destruction or conventional weapons’. ‘Articles related to weapons of mass destruction’ refers to articles related to nuclear, chemical weapons, biological weapons and missiles, and ‘articles related to conventional weapon’ refers to state of the art materials processing, electronics, computers, communication devices, sensors or lasers, navigation equipment, marine-related equipment and propulsion devices.

Those subject to approval include all exports of articles bound for North Korea as the place of destination.


Primary import controls applicable to defence and security articles include restriction on specified regions under which approval is required for import from specified countries of origin or places of shipment. Pursuant to this restriction, approval of the Minister of the Economy, Trade and Industry is required for import of weapons of which the country of origin or place of shipment is Eritrea, and Type I Designated Substances defined in the Act on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the Regulations of Specific Chemicals (Chemical Weapons Control Act) of which the counties of origin or the places of shipment are specified countries or regions. Further, in terms of current economic sanctions, the approval of the Minister of the Economy, Trade and Industry is required for the importation of any articles for which the country of origin or the place of shipment is North Korea, and the importation of weapons for which the country of origin or the place of shipment is Liberia, are effectively prohibited as a result.

Articles that require approval regardless of the country of origin or the place of shipment include:

  • explosives;
  • military aircraft, engines for military aircraft, tanks and other armed vehicles and components thereof, warships, military armaments, guns and other firearms, other weapons, bombs, swords, spears and other similar weapons, and components of the foregoing items; and
  • specified substances under the Chemical Weapons Control Act.

2017 Amendments to the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Act (FEFT)

The amendments to the FEFT were promulgated in 24 May 2017 and came into effect on 1 October 2017. These, in particular, strengthen penalties for the regulations concerning the import or export and trade of technologies; and administrative sanctions concerning import and export regulations.

Trade offsets

Are defence trade offsets part of this country’s defence and security procurement regime? How are they administered?

There are no trade offsets at the moment, although the Ministry of Defence is considering their introduction.