Published: Mon, March 12, 2018
Sport | By Floyd Cook

Japan and European Union spar with U.S. in Brussels over trade and tariffs

Japan and European Union spar with U.S. in Brussels over trade and tariffs

U.S. President Donald Trump set import tariffs on Thursday of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminium, to come into force in 15 days.

Asian stock markets rose in early trading on relief that Trump's measures were not more severe.

The United States was "the steward, the leader, of establishing, of developing a system of global relations", Norbert Röttgen, an ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel who is the head of the foreign affairs committee of the lower house of Germany's Parliament, said at a conference in Brussels.

The European Union and Japan urged the United States on Saturday to grant them exemptions from metal import tariffs, with Tokyo calling for "calm-headed behaviour" in a dispute that threatens to spiral into a trade war. A joint statement from the National Association of Wheat Growers and U.S. Wheat Associates said: "It is dismaying that the voices of farmers and many other industries were ignored in favor of an industry that is already among the most protected in the country".

South Korea's trade minister, speaking at an emergency meeting, appealed to other governments to prevent a "trade war".

Zhong said that Beijing would continue to "relax market access" to China, and that it would also attach greater importance to intellectual property rights, another point of tension with the U.S.

"If you do that, kiss good-bye any possibility of. well, basically anything", the official added.

"I'm not going to get into specifics", he said.

Trump sees the WTO, effectively the Supreme Court of trade, as pro China and anti American and isn't at all anxious that protectionist moves by him could lead to a trade war. "The EU charges a 10 percent tariff on our cars as well".

The Wall Street Journal editorial page, a bastion of traditional conservative thinking, called the tariffs "the biggest policy blunder" of Trump's presidency. As Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, said, "The president is imposing a massive tax increase on American families".

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Trump had praised Australia during his Cabinet meeting on Thursday.

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 US national security, rejecting Trump's justification for imposing the tariffs.

"We're doing tariffs on steel". "We kept making the case that Canada wasn't the enemy".

The EU in turn threatened an "arsenal" of retaliatory measures when the USA tariffs were first mentioned by Trump, including imposing import taxes on goods produced in red districts.

Gregory Mankiw, a Harvard economics professor who advised President George W. Bush, told the Washington Post: "On trade policy, President Trump appears to be listening to advisers with views far outside mainstream economics".

If national security is the primary issue, analysts said the United States might end up exempting major economic competitors in Asia and Europe such as Germany and Japan from the tariffs - leaving China and Russian Federation as the main targets. "Do you know quite how much US steel Canada buys?" said another person familiar with Canada's lobbying effort.

Korea is the third-largest steel supplier for the U.S. Its exports of steel products to America amounted to $4 billion previous year.

Allies from the European Union to Australia and Japan have said they'll seek exemptions and dismissed the national security concerns that the USA invoked to justify the tariffs.

However, Trump indicated that the Australian could be the third country.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is heading to Canadian steel country this week on a three-day tour created to shore up the industry.

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