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US pivots steel, aluminum tariff talks to Japan


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Trade officials have begun preliminary talks Nov. 4 regarding the future of the US' steel and aluminum tariffs against Japan, which are also enforced against many other global producers under Section 232, after the US replaced the tariffs on the EU with a tariff-rate quota on Oct. 30.

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US Trade Representative Katherine Tai held an introductory virtual meeting Nov. 4 with Japan's new minister of economy, trade and industry, Hagiuda Koichi, to discuss the US-Japan trade relationship and shared priorities in the Indo-Pacific region, according to a statement from the USTR's office.

"They also discussed the importance of working together to address issues in the steel and aluminum sectors, including the root causes of non-market excess capacity, before exchanging views on how the US and Japan can cooperate to address market-distorting measures and economic coercion," the USTR said.

In the meeting, Hagiuda "strongly requested a resolution of the issue of additional duties on Japanese steel and aluminum products based on Section 232," according to a statement issued by his department Nov. 4.

The Japan Iron and Steel Federation said a US trade agreement with Japan is critical following the US-EU TRQ deal.

"We are concerned that the agreement will result in a comprehensive relaxation of measures in the form of tariff-rate quota only for certain countries and regions, and that the Japanese steel industry, which is an ally of the US, will be put behind the EU in terms of export competitiveness to the US," the federation said in a Nov. 2 statement.

"The Japanese steel industry respects the Japanese government's efforts to negotiate with the US and strongly hopes that the Japanese government will continue to negotiate with the US to ensure the level playing field of the Japanese steel industry."

In a separate statement, the US Aluminum Association said the US must also continue to work with other "like-minded trading partners" to address China's unfair trade practices in the steel and aluminum industries as it negotiates with other countries regarding alternatives to the Section 232 tariffs.