Japan mulling WTO challenge to USA steel tariff: Aso

Minnie Murray
June 3, 2018

Finance leaders of the closest USA allies vented anger over the Trump administration's metal import tariffs but ended a three-day meeting in Canada on Saturday with no solutions, setting the stage for a heated fight at a G7 summit next week in Quebec.

"Everyone expressed their complete incomprehension of the American decisions and everyone said it was up to the Americans to take the next step since they were the ones who imposed the tariffs".

She said: "We are not seeking to escalate any situation but we need to respond and we'll do so in a measured manner, but not responding would be the same as accepting these tariffs which we consider are illegal".

"I have argued for the European Union and the USA to engage in a positive transatlantic trade agenda, and for the European Union to be fully permanently and unconditionally exempted from these tariffs".

Mnuchin, regarded as one of the more moderate trade voices in Trump's Cabinet, took a low profile during the G-7 discussion of tariffs but was clearly "isolated", two officials participating in the talks said.

Friction in Whistler could telegraph an even tenser meeting next week in Quebec, when the leaders of the G-7 meet, including President Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The Canadian government said they were targeting 16.6 billion Canadian dollars, or roughly $12.8 billion United States dollars.

Donald Trump's decision to hit European Union steel and aluminium imports to the United States with tariffs is "unjustified", Theresa May has said.

Underscoring that Washington D.C. has a Dollars 2 billion surplus on steel with Ottawa, the Canadian Prime Minister said, "The reason I don't know [what he wants] is because he's talked about the fact that he's anxious about trade surpluses, trade deficits around the world".

Trump's move makes good on his campaign vows to crack down on trading partners that he claims exploit poorly negotiated trade agreements to run up big trade surpluses with the United States.

"These unilateral tariffs, imposed under a false pretext of safeguarding USA national security, are inconsistent with the United States' global trade obligations and WTO rules", Chrystia Freeland, Canada's minister of foreign affairs, said in a statement.

Later on Friday, Trump told reporters that he might prefer separate trade deals with Canada and Mexico instead of a revamped NAFTA.

In retaliation for the tariffs imposed on Canadian steel and aluminum, Trudeau announced Thursday that Canada will impose $16.6 billion worth of "countermeasures" that hit a range of US products, from flat-rolled steel to playing cards.

"We have been attacked by those tariffs".

"Our steel and aluminium industries are hugely important to the United Kingdom, but they also contribute to USA industry including in defence projects which bolster U.S. national security".

Speaking of NAFTA, Trudeau said he told Mr. Trump last week he would go down to Washington with Freeland and personally sit down with the president to work out details. He estimated the US tariffs would affect $4 billion in trade between the two countries.

US Chamber of Commerce president Tom Donohue warned in a letter to the body's board that current trade policies could threaten economic progress and cause the loss of more than 2 million jobs, mostly in states that voted for Trump.

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