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Japan tells WTO it’s ready to retaliate against U.S. steel tariffs

AFP-JIJI

Japan told the World Trade Organization on Friday it was ready to take retaliatory measures against U.S. tariffs on its steel and aluminium, reversing its earlier conciliatory stance toward its close ally.

Japan informed the WTO it had the right to impose tariffs on U.S. goods worth ¥50 billion ($451 million) — equivalent to the impact of the U.S. tariffs newly imposed on Japanese metal products, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

But the ministry stopped short of saying Tokyo might take action, saying: “We plan to decide appropriately, considering the impact on Japanese companies as well as related U.S. measures.”

U.S. President Donald Trump sparked fears of a trade war in March when he decided to impose 25 percent tariffs on steel and 10 percent on aluminium imports, primarily to target China, but also allies, including EU countries as well as Japan.

Marking a departure from a decades-long U.S.-led drive for open and free trade, Trump has claimed that massive flows of imports to the U.S. threatened national security.

While Washington has granted Europe and other allies a delay from imposing the controversial levies, Japan remains on the list of countries facing the tariffs.

While China has already taken retaliatory measures, Japan had taken a conciliatory approach, attempting to win exemptions through dialogue.