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Trade war

Japan plans to hit back at US over import restrictions

Countermeasures to steel and aluminum tariffs set to total about $453m

The Japanese government is preparing to use the WTO to counter recently imposed U.S. tariffs.

TOKYO -- Japan plans to notify the World Trade Organization of countermeasures against U.S. import restrictions on steel and other items, government sources said on Thursday.

The measures total around 50 billion yen ($453 million), the same amount as U.S. import tariffs imposed on Japanese steel and aluminum products, the sources said.

Tokyo's move is seen as a possible bargaining chip in future trade negotiations with the U.S.

Washington levied additional tariffs of up to 25% on Japanese steel and aluminum products in late March. Japan exported about $2 billion (220 billion yen) of these products in 2017.

The Japanese government estimates that the country will have to pay additional tariffs of around 50 billion yen annually to the U.S. as a result of the import restrictions.

Under rules of the Geneva-based WTO, member countries are allowed to raise tariffs as a "safeguard" against a surge in imports.

If member countries are unhappy with the actions of their trading partners, they can take countermeasures after giving the WTO 30 days advance notice. 

Japan's latest move against the U.S. is in line with this procedure, however Tokyo will not specify which items will be affected by the countermeasures.

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