Published: Mon, March 12, 2018
Business | By Max Garcia

Japan trade minister calls for calm heads over U.S. tariffs

Japan trade minister calls for calm heads over U.S. tariffs

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he has spoken with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and that they are working on an agreement so Australia will not be subject to U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum.

The American president made his comments after crunch talks in Brussels between European Union negotiators and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in an effort to defuse a bitter row that many fear could turn into an all-out trade war.

The Trump administration earlier approved higher tariffs on Chinese-made washing machines, solar modules and some other goods, prompting Beijing to accuse Washington of disrupting global trade regulation by taking action under USA law instead of through the World Trade Organization.

USA industries processing steel and aluminium have also criticised the tariffs as landing them with higher costs. "Big Deficit. If not, we Tax Cars etc. FAIR!"

The tariffs create a 25 percent tax on steel imports and 10 percent tax on aluminum imports.

The EU has been trying to secure an exemption on the new U.S. trade tariffs which have recently been announced by president Donald Trump.

The European Union and Japan urged the United States to grant them exemptions from metal import tariffs, with Tokyo calling for "calm-headed behaviour" in a dispute that threatens to spiral into a trade war.

Japan's government has warned the measure could hurt its economic relations with the U.S. But ahead of Saturday's talks, Seko also cautioned that "falling to exchanges of unilateral measures will not be in the interest of any country", according to the Kyodo news agency.

In revealing those measures, European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker taunted Trump, saying the EU could match "stupid with stupid".

That his newly announced steel and aluminium tariffs - designed in particular to target Chinese steel dumping - will also hit European Union continental steel and aluminium exporters has brought the wrong response from Juncker. "It cannot get any better", the Prime Minister said.

"Steel is steel", Trump said. However, it took on more urgency after Trump's tariff move. "I do think the possibility of NAFTA partners walking away from the table mattered quite a bit", the lobbyist said. Aluminum and steel are used in everything from cutlery to pots and pans.

With national security as the primary issue, it would be hard to apply the tax to South Korea and Australia, meaning that they could ultimately land on Russian Federation more than nearly any other country, said Levy, now at adjunct professor at Northwestern University.

Because of foreign competition, the Commerce Department said, the US steel industry has closed six oxygen furnace facilities and idled another four since 2000, representing more than half of such plants in the U.S. Numerous measures would raise tariffs on USA products from politically-sensitive areas, such as the home districts of congressional leaders, and range from motorcycles to bourbon to peanut butter. The expansion of worldwide trade from 1980-2005 launched the greatest period of poverty reduction in world history with one billion people moved out of abject poverty. Trump did say he expected both Canada and Mexico to take action to prevent other countries from sneaking steel into the sending them to Canada or Mexico first.

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