Beijing’s decision to impose 100 percent special duties on three products imported from Japan is against bilateral and multilateral trade rules, trade chief Takeo Hiranuma said Friday.

Beijing informed Japan on Thursday that it imposed the special duties starting Friday on automobiles, mobile phones and air conditioners imported from Japan in response to Tokyo’s temporary import curbs on three farm products.

“Under the rules of the World Trade Organization, such a retaliatory action is not allowed. It is not acceptable from the viewpoint of the bilateral trade agreement (between Japan and China),” Hiranuma told a regular news conference.

The Chinese government revealed a list of 60 items that are subject to the 100 percent special duties on Friday. It covers trucks, buses and construction vehicles such as cranes and concrete mixers.

Hiranuma said he wants to start talks with China immediately over the duties, while calling for calm amid the escalating trade row.

“China and Japan have very broad relations,” he said. “China is an important neighbor. We should handle the matter without damaging a relationship of mutual trust.”

Ordinary tariffs set by China are 70 percent to 80 percent for automobiles and 12 percent for mobile phones. Tariffs for air conditioners range from 25 percent to 40 percent, according to the ministry.

On April 23, Tokyo invoked 200-day import curbs on stone leeks, fresh shiitake and rushes used to make tatami. Those products mainly come from China.

Beijing reportedly regards Tokyo’s temporary import curbs as a discriminatory action against China.

Hiranuma said the temporary import curbs will not be retracted.

“We decided on the temporary measures after examining the matter in accordance with the WTO rules,” he said.

“Taking retaliatory action against the temporary measure is unreasonable. We are not thinking about retracting the measure.”

Last year, Japan’s exports of cars, mobile phones and air conditioners to China amounted to 61.9 billion yen.

Japan’s exports of mobile phones and air conditioners to China totaled 11.1 billion yen and 5.6 billion yen last year, while those of cars, buses and trucks alone stood at 50.1 billion yen. Export figures for other types of vehicles, such as cranes and concrete mixers, were not immediately available.

In contrast, imports of the three farm products from China to Japan amounted to 24 billion yen for that period.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry asked China on Friday to hold a director general-level meeting in Beijing next week to discuss the latest action, a senior ministry official said.

The ministry made the proposal to Lu Ke Jian, the official in charge of economic and commercial affairs at the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo, the ministry official said.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.