Japan-US talks begin to resolve tariff disputes
U.S. and Japanese officials agreed on Monday to start talks to settle a dispute over U.S. tariffs on imports of Japanese steel and aluminum. The deal came during a meeting between US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Koichi Hagiuda, Japanese officials said. Japan wants to persuade Washington to lift tariffs imposed during President Donald Trump’s administration. The United States recently settled a comparative debate with the European Union in a deal that officials say addresses excess capacity that could distort the steel market.
Trump ordered additional tariffs, 25% on steel imports and 10% on aluminum, in March 2018, saying they would protect US jobs and national security.
It fixed a transatlantic rift and aims to create a framework to reduce the carbon intensity of steel and aluminum production that contributes to global warming.
Hagiuda made it clear at the meeting that Japan wants the tariff issue to be “completely” resolved, according to the World Trade Organization, officials from the Ministry of Trade and Industry said after the talks. Japan views US tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from Japan as “problematic,” they said.
Late last week, the Commerce Department released a statement announcing the start of consultations with Japan by Raimondo and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai “to tackle global steel and aluminum overcapacity, take effective measures to ensure the long-term viability of our steel and aluminum industries and to find solutions to strengthen our democratic alliance.
Raimondo responded to a request from Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi at a meeting Monday to remove additional tariffs on Japanese exports of steel and aluminum to the United States by saying she plans to tackling the problem as a priority, the foreign ministry said.
The excess capacity of steel and aluminum has worsened over the decades as China ramped up production to levels that eclipse the output of other countries. China produced 1.06 billion tonnes of crude steel in 2020, according to the World Steel Association. The second largest producer, India, produced 100 million tonnes, while Japan produced 83.7 million tonnes and the United States almost 73 million tonnes.
China also accounts for more than half of the world’s aluminum production.
The two sides also issued a statement stating that they will establish the “Japan-US Trade and Industry Partnership”. Japan’s Commerce Department and Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said they were “committed to working through JUCIP to strengthen the competitiveness, resilience and security of the two economies.” “This is so important for our two countries and coordination in these key areas is essential for our global economic recovery and our ability to seize our opportunities in a post-pandemic world,” said Raimondo in the opening speech of the meeting.
She said that “the commitment of the Ministry of Commerce to Japan is unwavering, as is our desire to strengthen our economic partnerships with like-minded countries.” Raimondo is expected to travel to Malaysia and Singapore after Tokyo. Tai is visiting Japan for several days starting Tuesday.
Japanese officials said Raimondo stressed the importance of strong ties between Japan and the United States and leadership in the Indo-Pacific region. The two officials also agreed to cooperate to address other challenges such as climate change. “For Japan and the United States who lead the global economy and share values such as a free and fair economic order, it is essential that we strengthen economic and technological cooperation, including chain resilience. supply, ”Hagiuda said.
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