Japan trade minister calls for calm heads over USA tariffs

Eloise Marshall
March 12, 2018

Trump declared the war by announcing a 25-per-cent tariff on all steel imports and a 10-per-cent tariff on foreign aluminium products.

It may be too early to predict how many and how fierce the battlefronts will be, but the latest statements from US President Donald Trump and leaders of countries like China, the European Union, Canada and Mexico point to a large-scale trade war in the making.

She will meet US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Japanese Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko in Brussels on Saturday when she will ask whether the European Union is to be included in the tariffs.

In reaction, Iranian lawmaker Ramezan-Ali Sobhanifar said, "Considering the fact the U.S. is a major consumer of steel, the tariff increase could push major steel producers to look for new markets".

"We're working on NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement] right now, and if we're able to make a deal with Canada and Mexico in NAFTA, then there will be no reason to do the tariffs with Canada and Mexico", Mr. Trump said.

Critics point out that the tariffs will do more harm than good to the overall U.S. economy.

The Trump's protectionist steel tariff sparked outrage across the globe, AFP reported. She noted that under WTO rules, once Trump's tariffs come into force in two weeks, the European Union would have 90 days to enact the measures.

The tariffs come into force in two weeks, and if the 28-nation European Union can not secure an exemption, it has threatened retaliatory tariffs on US products like peanut butter and orange juice.

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

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The 25-per-cent tariff on steel products, Korea's seventh-biggest export item to the USA, also comes on top of anti-dumping and countervailing duties imposed on them. "Without steel you don't have a country". "It is crap", Trump said, earning cheers from the crowd.

In the days leading up to Thursday's announcement, the biggest trade move of Trump's presidency, key industry players and trading partners were still in the dark about the contours of the plan. "I do think the possibility of NAFTA partners walking away from the table mattered quite a bit", the lobbyist said.

Steel imports will be hit with a 25% tariff and aluminum imports with a 10% tariff.

Less than 24 hours after White House adviser Peter Navarro declared that there would be no exceptions to the tariffs, Trump tweeted that they may come off for Canada and Mexico "if a new and fair NAFTA agreement".

EUROFER chief Axel Eggert said "the national security justification the president has used - and the linking of these tariffs to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation funding - is an absurdity". He also added Australia to the list of likely carve-outs.

"President Trump has recently said, and I quote, 'trade wars are good and easy to win, '" Tusk told a press conference in Luxembourg.

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker on Friday threatened to hit big-name U.S. brands such as Harley Davidson motorbikes and Levi's jeans with import duties, prompting Trump to fire back a threat to tax cars from the EU.

Japan, he said, would stick to World Trade Organization rules in terms of taking measures.

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