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A senior trade official voiced hope Thursday that the United States will shortly offer to compensate Japan for damage inflicted upon its steel industry in the wake of Washington’s recent decision to impose import tariffs on a range of steel products.

“We have not heard about it yet, but of course, the other party could offer something” by the time U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick visits Japan next Thursday, Katsusada Hirose, vice minister of economy, trade and industry, told reporters.

“But it will depend on how our negotiations proceed, including that possibility.”

Tokyo has urged Washington to drop the tariffs it imposed last month to protect the ailing U.S. steel industry, and estimates the damage inflicted upon Japanese steelmakers at about $167 million.

Japan has also warned the U.S. that it may impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports if Washington fails to compensate for its actions by lowering tariffs on other Japanese exports.

Hirose said, however, that the trade dispute would not hamper international efforts at the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to combat a global steel glut.

“We think OECD discussions for adjusting capacity should be held as they are, separately from those on safeguards,” he said.

As a result, OECD Secretary General Donald Johnston and Japan’s trade minister, Takeo Hiranuma, are unlikely to address the tariffs during their meeting, which may be held Friday, Hirose said.

Along with the European Union and South Korea, Japan has also filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization against the tariffs, which will be levied at up to 30 percent over a period of three years.

The above parties are slated to hold joint inaugural talks with the U.S. on Thursday under the dispute-settlement system of the Geneva-based watchdog.

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