Japan asks for exemption from Trump's tariffs, gets no answer

The awkward exchange took place at the an event in the White House yesterday where President Trump pressed ahead with imposing import tariffs of 25pc on steel and 10pc for aluminum. He was joined by steel and aluminum workers holding white hard hats. But he showed more leniency than initially thought.

Trump said he would "hold off" on tariffs against Canada and Mexico while the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is being renegotiated, but said NAFTA would be "terminated" unless an acceptable new deal is reached.

"Many of the countries that treat us the worst on trade and on the military are our allies, as they call them", he complained.

Japan is the fourth biggest trading partner with the US. Countries refused special treatment could still hit back against the US with trade barriers of their own down the road.

The U.S. president suggested in the meeting with his Cabinet that Australia and "other countries" might also be spared, a shift that could soften the global blow amid threats of retaliation by trading partners.

Her words echo those of Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo who said last week Mexico also believed the steel tariffs had nothing to do with the NAFTA talks.

The U.S. says China is the main culprit in flooding the market with cheap steel and aluminum, dragging down prices and putting American producers out of business.

The latest example came as he announced negotiations were underway between Washington and Beijing to reduce the soaring U.S. trade deficit with China - with Trump misstating a central figure by 99 percent.

"As a close security and trade partner of the United States, the European Union must be excluded from the announced measures", Malmstrom wrote on Twitter.

The UK exports 350,000 tonnes of steel to the U.S. - seven per cent of its total exports.

Ross also contended that American consumers will not lose in the end, claiming the increase in costs would be as low as "a fraction of one cent".

Our supply chains are integrated and, in steel, the United States runs a trade surplus with Canada. The tariffs take effect in two weeks. And there will be a long line of companies and countries arguing their imports should be given special treatment.

"If they drop their horrific barriers and tariffs on USA products going in, we will likewise drop ours". Trump's Chief Economic Adviser Gary Cohn has threatened to resign if the president goes through with the tariffs.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged dialogue and warned that "no one can win in such a race to the bottom".

China was quick to respond to Trump's announcement. While business experts and American lawmakers speculate that the move was meant mostly to disadvantage China, it has enraged key US allies like the European Union and Canada (the U.S.'s largest supplier of both materials).

Britain meanwhile said it would "work with European Union partners to consider the scope for exemptions outlined today", saying "tariffs are not the right way" to tackle the problem of global over-capacity in steel.

China's Commerce Ministry said it "firmly opposes" the U.S. president's move but gave no indication whether Beijing might make good on threats to retaliate.

Canada, for its part, said it will lobby for a "permanent and full exclusion" from the tariffs, according to the nation's foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland.

Trump tweets that Turnbull is committed to having a fair and reciprocal military and trade relationship with the US, its ally.

South Korea said it would consider taking the case to the World Trade Organization if Washington refuses to exempt it from the tariffs.

  • Zachary Reyes