Japan trade minister calls for calm heads over United States tariffs

March 13 00:00 2018

The Navy’s new USS Little Rock arrives at the harbor in Buffalo, N.Y., on December 4.

The European Union’s trade chief dismissed U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on vehicle imports, and vowed to “stand up to bullies”, adding to signs that a widening trans-Atlantic rift over protectionism could escalate into an all-out trade war.

Worldwide trade secretary Dr Liam Fox hit out at the Trump administration over steel tariffs in a statement to the House of Commons this evening.

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag that EC nations ‘have been building a global trading system for decades’. We want to build our planes. We also know they face real challenges, including concerns around global overcapacity and our integrated North American market.

Because of foreign competition, the Commerce Department said, the USA steel industry has closed six oxygen furnace facilities and idled another four since 2000, representing more than half of such plants in the U.S.

Michael Dolega, economist at TD Economics estimates that about 5,000 to 10,000 jobs could be added to steel and aluminum production in the USA, but there could also be a loss of 25,000 to 50,000 jobs in metal-intensive sectors like machinery and transport equipment. Tariffs on raw steel and aluminum will directly impact some of the companies represented at the show.

He said the levies are “not fair to our farmers and manufacturers”. Canada, with Brazil and South Korea, is a major steel supplier.

The reasons are political rather than strategic, he says. Now, if we talk about aluminium, India accounts for only 5% of global aluminium production and comprises of a meagre 2% of the U.S. imports of aluminium.

Data last week showed that the USA trade deficit had jumped to an over nine-year high in January, with the country’s shortfall with China widening sharply. In some cases, such as aircraft made by the Brazilian company Embraer, the USA allows products to be partly manufactured overseas, as long as they are finished domestically.

The European Union and Japan, the United States’ top economic and military ally in Asia, also reiterated that their exports were not a threat to U.S. national security, rejecting Trump’s justification for imposing the tariffs. “If it’s gonna employ more Americans who can buy more of our products, it’s a good thing”.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he told U.S. President Donald Trump during a recent phone call that slapping duties on Canadian steel and aluminum would hurt ongoing NAFTA negotiations. The U.S. only gets 2 percent of our steel from China.

Much of the steel imported today comes from friendly countries such as Canada, South Korea, Japan and the United Kingdom, with which the USA has strong military alliances.

Trump suggested before he signed the orders imposing the tariffs that Australia and “other countries” could also be exempted.

It also said Trump was “cherry-picking” particular tariffs to highlight differences, and maintained average tariffs were very similar on each side of the Atlantic – 3 percent for products into Europe and 2.4 percent into the United States.

Ms Malmström said protectionism was being “used as a weapon to threaten and intimidate us”. He further reiterated that even if India retaliated by raising tariffs, being a free market economy, being resource laden, and having access to global technology and capital, India will continue to stand strong.

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Japan trade minister calls for calm heads over United States tariffs
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