Biden Commerce Chief Says U.K., Japan Steel Talks to Start Soon
(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. expects to begin talks with the U.K. and Japan aimed at addressing the nations’ objections to steel and aluminum tariffs “reasonably soon,” and any solution must protect the American industries, President Joe Biden’s commerce chief said.
Secretary Gina Raimondo said that she plans to discuss the steel issue with Japanese officials when she visits Tokyo next Monday on her first trip to Asia since taking office in March. The talks would follow a U.S.-European Union truce last month that allows the allies to remove tariffs.
Raimondo said that it’s too early to say how close the U.S. is to resolving the issue with Japan and whether it can be settled via a tariff-rate quota, as with the EU. That mechanism allows countries to export specified quantities of a product to other nations at lower duty rates, but subjects shipments above a pre-determined threshold to higher tariffs.
The U.K. and Japan “are important allies to us, and we do want to see if we can work through the trade issues,” Raimondo said in an interview in Chicago on Monday. “I’ll take the same approach into those negotiations as we had with the EU, which is yes, we want to work with our allies and remove trade irritants; however, we have to protect the steel and aluminum industry in America and the workers in those industries.”
The Trump administration imposed a 25% steel tariff, along with a 10% duty on aluminum imports, in March 2018 on a range of nations, using the section 232 national-security provision in a 1962 trade law. Some countries, including Brazil and South Korea, negotiated deals to avoid the levies, and Trump dropped the duties for imports from Canada and Mexico.
U.K. Ambassador to the U.S. Karen Pierce in a Bloomberg Television interview last week reiterated that Britain wants to see the tariffs removed.
Asked about Turkey and India, two other nations hit by the Trump tariffs, Raimondo said that she has not engaged with them on the steel tariffs nor “even started to think about this.” The focus for Raimondo and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai was resolving the duties with the EU in order to avoid an increase in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products including whiskey, she said.
Raimondo said that the trip to Asia, which besides Japan includes Singapore and Malaysia, is broadly focused on starting the work to move toward the economic framework for the region that Biden wants. She is also scheduled to speak at Bloomberg LP’s New Economy Forum conference in Singapore on Nov. 17.
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