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Globalization - Countries - Japan

Japan Set to Retaliate Against US Steel Tariffs
Reuters, Tokyo - May 16, 2002

British Aren't the Only Ones to file WTO Complaints

Japan said it will notify the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on Friday of plans to retaliate against US steel tariffs after Washington rebuked Tokyo's last minute a plea for compensation or an annulment of the hefty duties.

The trade ministry announced Thursday it planned to impose 100 per cent tariffs on $4.88 million worth of US steel and steel products from June 18, the first action of its kind for Tokyo.

That would be part of a larger retaliation plan worth $123.43 million to be implemented if the WTO ruled against the United States for placing tariffs of up to 30 per cent on steel imports to protect its ailing domestic industry.

The US decision in March has sparked threats of reprisals among global steelmakers including the European Union and South Korea.

"We had been asking for compensation or an annulment of the duties, but the US did not respond, and so we will be informing the WTO of our plans," a trade official told a news conference.

"We've never been forced to take such action, but then there's never been a case like this."

Trade minister Takeo Hiranuma had asked US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick in a telephone call early on Thursday to consider compensation or an annulment of the tariffs, but the two sides failed to agree, the official said.

Friday is the deadline for Japan to submit a list of retaliatory measures.

But the official said Hiranuma and Zoellick agreed to keep negotiating.

"In view of the importance of bilateral relations between Japan and the United States, we agreed to continue seeking a settlement of the issue through discussions," he quoted Hiranuma as saying after the phone call.

Japan will also ask the WTO after May 20 to set up a dispute settlement panel, he said.

The US tariffs come at a bad time for Japanese steel producers, which have seen domestic demand from builders and manufacturers slump as the world's second-biggest economy struggles with its deepest recession since World War Two.

The European Union, which has also been upset by the US tariffs, notified the WTO on Tuesday of its plans to impose 100 per cent retaliatory tariffs on a range of US goods, including textiles and fruit.


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