Japan to join EU in WTO talks on U.S. steel tariffs: source

TOKYO – Japan is seeking to join the European Union in its push to set up dispute resolution talks with the United States over Washington’s steel and aluminum tariffs, under the World Trade Organisation framework, a government source said.

The Japanese government source, who has direct knowledge of the matter, said it has informed the WTO about its intention to take part.

FILE PHOTO: The headquarters of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are pictured in Geneva, Switzerland, April 12, 2017. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

The source, who did not want to be named, also said Japan has told the WTO it wants to participate in similar consultations requested by Canada and Mexico as it looks to join forces with countries affected by U.S. tariffs.

“We are in the same situation as the other countries, so we want to participate in the talks and share information,” said the source.

“Our ultimate goal is to get the U.S. to repeal these tariffs.”

Holding consultations is the first step in the WTO’s dispute settlement process, but it is uncertain whether the United States will agree to the request for talks.

The United States has upset its closest allies by imposing a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports.

The U.S. says the tariffs are needed to protect national security and U.S. workers. Many countries say their steel exports pose no threat to U.S. national security and the tariffs are really aimed at curbing China’s excess steel capacity.

Disagreement over the tariffs spilled into the open at a Group of Seven leaders’ summit last week as U.S. President Donald Trump backed out of signing a joint communique that appeared to reach a fragile consensus on trade policy.

The EU, Canada, and Mexico have prepared retaliatory tariffs against U.S. imports, raising the chance of a full-blown trade war.

So far, Japan has not taken similar steps, but there is a lingering concern in Tokyo over whether Washington will try to curb Japanese imports to lower the U.S. trade deficit.


Miyanaga Aiko

The Kootneeti Team - East Asian Monitor

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