Japan trade minister calls for calm heads over USA tariffs

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Donald Trump last week set import tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium, to come into force in 15 days. If the European Union is unable to secure an exemption, there are fears that it could lead for a "tit for tat" trade war between the two close allies.

European steel and aluminum associations have warned that the USA tariffs could cost their sectors thousands of jobs. Yet privately, many nations are moving to consider trade concessions that would exempt them from the US tariffs.

Some European policymakers said they anxious the tariffs were part of a broader assault by the Trump administration on ties between Europe and Washington, which has been the backbone of the post-World War II Western order. The next US target might be cars or semiconductors.

"The European Union, wonderful countries who treat the United States very badly on trade, are complaining about the tariffs on Steel & Aluminum", Trump tweeted. Instead, they said, Trump is bolstering domestic industries in violation of global trade rules.

There is a trade deficit with the United States, meaning more American products and services are bought down under than sent the other way.

Many U.S. lawmakers said Thursday and Friday they were pleased about exempting the two neighboring countries. "It's not the way to do business".

"Not fair to our farmers and manufacturers". As a result, steel consumers are more likely to balk at the higher prices that would result from tariffs.

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Time after time at the WTO trade negotiations the European Union has dragged its feet and in sectors such as cars or agriculture maintained higher tariffs than its own exporters enjoy. "Car shoppers looking for a deal will instead find that they are paying a new tax to transport themselves and their families".

Minister Hiroshige Seko told a news conference his USA counterpart Robert Lighthizer had only explained the schedule and procedure of the US actions in talks in Brussels. But the administration has yet to provide any clarity on what that would look like.

One of the hysterical objections from those who oppose President Trump's proposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum is that he is going to start a trade war, because other countries will retaliate with tariffs of their own.

He told a boisterous crowd that if Europe did not lower trade barriers to U.S. imports, "we're gonna tax Mercedes-Benz, we're gonna tax BMW".

Many observers believe Trump's strategy is to use the tariffs as leverage in trade negotiations.

Lighthizer made no public comment after the meetings with Malmström and Japanese Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko, which lasted several hours.

Trade across borders is undeniably good as Adam Smith taught us some 250 years ago.

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"He does not want to understand its architecture, which is based on a rule-based system of open markets. Do you know quite how much USA steel Canada buys?" said another person familiar with Canada's lobbying effort.

"All of a sudden you've forced them to deal politically with their own backlash at home", said Chad Bown, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

The 25-per-cent tariff on steel products, Korea's seventh-biggest export item to the United States, also comes on top of anti-dumping and countervailing duties imposed on them. Eventually the World Trade Organization ruled the policy illegal because it violated US trade commitments, which led to the threat of a trade war with the European Union.

"Our trade relationship, as the president acknowledges, is a fair and reciprocal one", Turnbull said.

More surprising may be the outrage in the USA from groups that have traditionally backed the president.

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.

The tariffs rollout has been rife with confusion and dissension in the White House.

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