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Japan will hold bilateral talks with the European Union on Wednesday in Geneva over temporary steel import curbs recently invoked by the EU, Katsusada Hirose, vice minister for trade, said Monday.

The EU invoked the 200-day import curbs on steel products March 29 to prevent a flood in European market. The EU acted after the United States imposed import curbs on steel products March 20.

The EU claims that the U.S. action closes the U.S. market to steel products and diverts steel products originally heading for the U.S. to the European market.

The proposed meeting between Japan and the EU is in line with the procedures on safeguard measures under international trade rules of the World Trade Organization.

Japan expressed concern that the EU import curbs violate WTO rules and may lead other countries to take similar import restriction measures.

“Economic damage (caused by the EU action) is not so big as that caused by the U.S. action. But we will discuss the issue with the EU since we can’t ignore the EU action from the standpoint of the WTO trade rules,” Hirose told a regular news conference.

Meanwhile, Japan will hold talks Thursday with the U.S. in Geneva over steel import curbs. The meeting is to be joined by the EU, South Korea and possibly China, Hirose said.

On the same day in Tokyo, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick will hold a meeting with Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Takeo Hiranuma to discuss trade issues, including the steel issue.

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