Japan plans retaliatory tariffs against United States: Reports
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.
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.