Ja­pan plans re­tal­ia­tory tar­iffs against United States: Re­ports

The Gulf Today - Business - - INTERNATIONAL -

TOKYO: Ja­pan is con­sid­er­ing tar­iffs on US ex­ports worth $409 mil­lion in re­tal­i­a­tion against steel and alu­minium im­port tar­iffs im­posed by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, me­dia re­ported on Thurs­day.

Such a move would sig­nal Tokyo is ready to go beyond back­door talks and pleas for ex­emp­tions from the US du­ties.

It would also add to a grow­ing rift that Trump’s “Amer­ica First” trade poli­cies is cre­at­ing among ma­jor economies, which threat­ens to slow global trade and busi­ness ac­tiv­ity.

Ja­pan is the only ma­jor US ally that did not re­ceive ex­emp­tions from Trump’s tar­iff de­ci­sion. But it has re­frained from fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of China and the Euro­pean Union, which re­sponded to the US de­ci­sion with re­cip­ro­cal threats.

That may change as months of ne­go­ti­a­tions have failed to con­vince Wash­ing­ton to add Ja­pan to a list of coun­tries ex­empted from the US tar­iffs, an­a­lysts say.

Tokyo’s planned re­tal­ia­tory tar­iffs on US ex­ports would be the equiv­a­lent value to du­ties im­posed by Wash­ing­ton via its tar­iffs, pub­lic broad­caster NHK said.

The gov­ern­ment is pre­par­ing to no­tify the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion of the plan this week, a nec­es­sary pro­ce­dure un­der global trade rules, ac­cord­ing to NHK. An­a­lysts see such a threat as more of a ne­go­ti­at­ing tac­tic to im­prove the chances of get­ting a US ex­emp­tion, though it would be a no­table shift from Tokyo’s fairly sub­dued tone.

“This would be a half-step for­ward since up till now, Ja­pan was just mak­ing re­quests to the United States for an ex­emp­tion,” said Ju­nichi Su­gawara, an an­a­lyst at Mizuho Re­search In­sti­tute.

“But there’s still some dis­tance from ac­tu­ally slap­ping penal­ties,” he said.

Ja­pan’s top gov­ern­ment spokesman Yoshi­hide Suga con­ceded the gov­ern­ment was con­sid­er­ing tak­ing “nec­es­sary” steps based on WTO rules. But he said no fi­nal de­ci­sion has been made on whether to take re­tal­ia­tory steps.

Trump de­cided in March to im­pose im­port du­ties of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on alu­minium, draw­ing crit­i­cism from other coun­tries for height­en­ing the risk of a global trade war.

GRAIN BUY­ERS

Ja­panese grain buy­ers have bought at least three ves­sels car­ry­ing a to­tal of 150,000 to 180,000 tonnes of US sorghum amid a trade spat be­tween China and the United States, four in­dus­try sources told Reuters.

The car­goes are among roughly two dozen bought by China but left stranded af­ter Bei­jing an­nounced last month it would hit US im­ports with a 178.6 per cent de­posit on the value of sorghum ship­ments, amid es­ca­lat­ing trade ten­sions.

Trad­ing firms have been scram­bling to off­load the car­goes to other coun­tries, in­clud­ing Spain, which has so far pur­chased five car­goes, and Saudi Ara­bia.

Ja­panese trad­ing houses Mit­subishi Corp and Mit­sui & Co to­gether bought one ves­sel which arrived at Kashima port, near Tokyo, late last month, said the sources who de­clined to be named due to sen­si­tiv­ity of the deals.

“The cargo has also stopped to un­load some of the sup­ply at Mizushima and Shibushi ports,” one of the sources said.

Other buy­ers in­clude Zen-noh, a Ja­panese farmer co­op­er­a­tive, and a pair of trad­ing com­pa­nies, Toy­ota Tsusho Corporation and Itochu Corporation, he and two other sources said.

“There may be an­other ves­sel com­ing to Ja­pan if Marubeni Corp suc­ceeds in strik­ing a deal with a part­ner of an­other coun­try,” the source added.

Mit­sui, Zen-noh, Itochu and Marubeni de­clined to com­ment. Mit­subishi and Toy­ota Tsusho were not im­me­di­ately avail­able for com­ment.

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