Domestic steelmakers should voluntarily cut their exports to China in the wake of Beijing’s decision to impose temporary curbs on steel imports, the chairman of the Japan Iron and Steel Federation said Thursday.
“We, Japanese makers, should consider voluntary export restraints,” Akira Chihaya, who also serves as president of Nippon Steel Corp., told a news conference.
China slapped import tariffs of between 7 percent and 26 percent on nine types of steel products May 24.
The restrictions are to last 180 days.
Chihaya said he is concerned Beijing’s maneuver will have adverse effects on the clients of Japanese steelmakers, such as automakers and home appliance manufacturers, as some of the products they export to China are re-exported to Japan after being processed.
He said the federation wants to hold talks with China over the issue of re-exportation.
With crude steel production having risen 5.5 percent in May from a year earlier to more than 9 million tons, Chihaya’s calls for a cut in steel exports to China have provoked fears that domestic steel inventories may suffer a further buildup.
Meanwhile, vice trade minister Katsusada Hirose said Japan may ask China to retract the provisional import curbs during a planned bilateral meeting in Beijing on Monday.
Although the curbs are still in the provisional stage, there are concerns they could trigger a chain reaction of protectionist trade policies, Hirose, vice minister of economy, trade and industry, told a regular news conference.
Japan will seek an explanation from Beijing and consider its next step after next week’s working-level talks, he said.
Hirose added he expects China, which became a World Trade Organization member in December, to abide by the international trade rules of the WTO in dealing with the matter.
He added that he believes China’s import restrictions are inappropriate considering conditions within China’s steel market.
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