Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Trade Representatives From US, EU, Japan Discuss New Metal Tariffs

"The market is now trying to decide whether Trump is actually going to go through with it: BlackRock’s Scott Thiel
Melinda Barton | 11 March, 2018, 14:38

"Japanese exports of steel and aluminum have no impact on U.S. national security, and contribute greatly to U.S. employment and economic growth", Seko said at a press conference after a meeting in Brussels with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Chinese steelmakers urged Beijing to target USA coal.

President Donald Trump said Saturday he would spare the European Union his steel and aluminium tariffs if the bloc halts its own trade barriers to U.S. products, in his latest round of economic hardball.

Canada, Mexico and Australia have secured exemptions from the tariffs of 25 per cent on imported steel and 10 per cent on aluminium announced by Trump, though Canada's and Mexico's were conditioned on progress renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. Canada is the biggest supplier of steel imported by the United States.

"We're doing tariffs on steel".

After meeting with industry representatives, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the new tariffs are "not good". "The best would be if we are exempt". As a close security and trade partner of the United States, the European Union must be excluded from the announced measures.

French President Emmanuel Macron told Trump in a phone conversation that the tariffs "risk setting off a trade war in which all the countries involved would be the losers".

Brussels has gone the furthest in fighting back, loudly announcing a list of USA products to hit with countermeasures, if its exports are affected by the tariffs, but says it hopes to join Canada and Mexico in being exempted.

Meanwhile, Seko, Lighthizer and EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, who heads the body responsible for developing and carrying out the trade policies of the European Commission, the European Union's executive arm, also held a trilateral meeting in Brussels on Saturday.

The meeting, originally scheduled to address China's oversupply of steel, was also attended by Japan's trade minister, Hiroshige Seko. The EU has prepared a list of products including orange juice, bourbon, cranberries, peanut butter etc., for imposing reciprocal tariffs if needed. We can't lose our aluminum industry; also a fraction of what it once was. The European Steel Association EUROFER backed the call for countermeasures.

There was still "no immediate clarity on the exact USA procedure on exemption", Malmstrom, the 28-nation bloc's trade commissioner, said after the meeting that also included Japanese Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko.

By putting the tariffs in place, Trump invoked a rarely used law that allows the president to move against imports that undermine national security.

European Union officials, however, rejected this justification.

"We are living in historic times of unraveling", he said.

Japan also rejected the allegation its metal exports were harming USA security, with officials saying the move "could have a grave impact on the economic relationship" between the two countries.

The Japanese government plans to explain to the US side that restricting imports of high-quality Japanese steel could negatively affect USA industries and employment because these products are used in oil field development and other industries in the United States.