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Some Japanese products have 'high chance' of US tariff exemptions, says minister

Japanese Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko said March 20 that some Japanese steel and aluminum products will likely receive exemptions from U.S. tariffs since they have few replacements, Reuters reported.

"I think there is a high chance that Japanese steel and aluminum products would be exempted from the new tariffs on a per-item basis, as they contribute greatly to U.S. industries and many of them have little substitute," Seko told a news conference, adding that Japanese steelmakers were encouraging U.S. clients to apply for exemptions.

U.S. companies seeking an exemption on an imported steel or aluminum product need to describe its properties and quantity, and U.S. companies providing equivalent products are able to lodge objections, according to guidelines from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Seko also said Japan will "continuously and tenaciously" ask the U.S. to exempt Japan from the tariffs of 25% on aluminum and 10% on steel, which are set to take effect March 23. U.S. President Donald Trump temporarily exempted Canada and Mexico and opened the door for other allied nations to secure similar exemptions.

Japan exports 2 million tonnes of steel per year to the U.S., about 5% of its total annual shipments. Japan's aluminum exports to the U.S. are about 27,000 tonnes, or 11% of its total and equivalent to 1.3% of the 2.1 million tonnes of rolled and extruded aluminum it produces annually, Reuters reported.

Industry officials said global automakers and vehicle suppliers are urging the Trump administration and U.S. Congress to exempt the EU and other allies, the newswire added.