Japan trade minister calls for calm heads over United States tariffs

Cheryl Sanders
March 11, 2018

Trump imposed the tariffs - 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminium - despite repeated warnings from the European Union and other allies that this could trigger a full-on trade war.

"If they drop their horrific barriers & tariffs on USA products going in, we will likewise drop ours".

Mr Trump's announcement of import tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium has sparked fears of a trade war.

However, a recent study by the Trade Partnership, a Washington D.C. -based consulting firm, estimated that Trump's new tariffs would result in a net loss of 146,000 jobs in the United States after accounting for positive impacts on US steel and aluminum producers.

"We work together. We can not possibly be a threat to national security in the USA, so we are counting on being excluded", she said Friday.

European Commissioner Malmstrom, who coordinates policy for the 28-nation EU, the world's biggest trading bloc, said she stood ready to go to the WTO, the worldwide trade arbiter, to impose the bloc's own safeguards within 90 days.

Brussels has gone the furthest in fighting back against Washington's shock measures, loudly announcing a list of USA products to hit with countermeasures if its exports are affected by the tariffs.

This progress was "unexpected" and a source of cautious optimism on solving the tariff row, an European Union official said on condition of anonymity.

Striking a defiant tone, European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen called Trump's speech protectionist, saying it remained unclear how a potential exclusion process would work.

Along with a huge range of steel products, the EU's hit list of flagship American products lined up for counter measures includes peanut butter, bourbon whiskey and denim jeans.

Peck used to hold multiple positions in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative from 2001 to 2005 and once served as deputy director of global affairs and business development at the California Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development in 2014.

The Eurofer director-general's remarks came as European Union warned it would take matters into its own hands if Mr Trump did not include it as an ally and the bloc from the import tariff list.

Trump said the tariffs, which will come into effect 15 days after he formally unveiled them Thursday, will not initially apply to Canada and Mexico.

Brazil, South Korea and Australia have also asked for exemptions or special treatment.

Complicating matters, Trump indicated that the sparing of Australia was linked to an unspecified "security agreement" outside of trade policy.

UK Steel says 7% of its steel exports go to the United States, worth £360m. Under World Trade Organization rules, such counter-measures have to be in place within 90 days of the US tariffs entering force.

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