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International relations

Japan, U.S. ministers meet over steel, aluminum tariffs

Tokyo pushes commerce secretary to lift steel tariffs imposed by Trump

Koichi Hagiuda, Japan's industry minister, meets his U.S. counterpart, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, in Tokyo on Nov. 15.

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The Japanese and U.S. industry ministers on Monday met to discuss Washington's imposition of higher tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Japan.

Japan's trade and industry minister Koichi Hagiuda met with U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in Tokyo in hopes of persuading the visiting official to move her nation toward abolishing additional tariffs imposed by former U.S. President Donald Trump.

"It is a valuable opportunity to discuss the future of Japan-U.S. cooperation. Through today's discussions I hope we can further expand the cooperative relations between the two countries," Hagiuda said at the outset of the meeting.

Raimondo responded the "Department of Commerce's commitment to Japan is unwavering as it is our desire to strengthen our economic partnerships with like-minded countries."

She said she is deeply focused on topics including coordination in facilitating the digital economy, infrastructure development, semiconductors and supply chain resilience, which is "essential for our global economic recovery and our ability to seize opportunities in a post-pandemic world."

The meeting comes after the United States ended a similar dispute last month with the European Union and is now allowing a certain quantity of European steel and aluminum to enter duty free.

"The United States and Japan will seek to resolve bilateral concerns in this area (of steel and aluminum)," the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said Friday in a statement, just ahead of the visit to Japan by its chief Katherine Tai and Raimondo.

The start of talks on the steel issue with Japan will "present an opportunity to promote high standards, address shared concerns, including climate change, and hold countries like China that support trade-distorting nonmarket policies and practices to account," the USTR statement said.

Since 2018, the United States has been imposing extra duties of 25% on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports due to claims of potential national security risks under Trump's "America First" foreign and trade policy.

The EU responded with a retaliatory measure but agreed on Oct. 30 to end the dispute. Japan, in contrast, has not taken a countermeasure but has repeatedly asked for the situation to be normalized.

In her first trip to Asia since assuming the post, Raimondo will make a two-day visit to Singapore from Tuesday and travel to Malaysia on Thursday.

The trip comes on the heels of U.S. President Joe Biden's announcement that his administration will develop what he calls an "economic framework that will define our shared objectives with partners in the region."

After Tokyo, Tai, also on her first Asian trip since taking her position, will be in South Korea and India.

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