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Japan on Friday notified the World Trade Organization of its plan to slap 100 percent retaliatory tariffs on U.S. steel imports, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said.

The tariffs would take effect June 18.

The step follows Wednesday’s failure by trade minister Takeo Hiranuma and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick to narrow their differences over recent U.S. steel import curbs.

It was the first time Japan has taken a step toward retaliation in any trade row.

The two trade ministers agreed to continue negotiations, and Tokyo plans to do so until the last minute, hoping to press Washington to allow more Japanese steel products to be exempted from its emergency tariffs.

Japan’s $123.43 million reprisal plan is twofold. The first part involves $4.88 million in duties it will impose on U.S. steel products if the United States makes no compromises.

For the remaining $118.55 million, Tokyo reserved the right to impose levies on items still to be determined in case the WTO’s dispute-settlement panel rules against the U.S. and Washington fails to comply and keeps the import curb.

A judgment is expected in about two years.

Japan took the two-stage approach apparently to prevent the steel issue from evolving into a serious tit-for-tat trans-Pacific trade war.

The dispute flared up March 20, when the U.S. slapped safeguard tariffs on an array of steel imports from Japan and other countries to rescue its struggling steel industry.

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