Japan fails to get United States tariff exemptions on steel and aluminum: Nikkei falls

Japan fails to get United States tariff exemptions on steel and aluminum: Nikkei falls 

Chika Mori and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan will quietly feel let down by President Donald Trump of America, in relation to failing to be exempted from tariffs imposed by America. Especially given the fact that the European Union, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, South Korea, and a few other nations, have been temporarily exempted. Therefore, people in the corridors of power in Tokyo will feel nerved by the opening start of tariffs being imposed by America.

It could be that the Trump administration is going after the two major Asia Pacific powers, even if greater emphasis is being put on China. This follows on from the proposed tariffs on China that cover many sectors. Indeed, Trump stressed that up to $60 billion dollars of new tariffs on China may result unless political elites in Beijing change their unfair trade practices. Hence, it could be that if Japan evaded more limited tariffs then China would feel more victimized.

Not surprisingly, markets in Asia tumbled on actions being proposed and implemented by America. Major bourses closed down with Japan’s Nikkei falling by 4.5%, China’s Shanghai Composite falling by 3.4%, South Korea’s Kospi falling by 3.2%, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng falling by 2.4%. Of course, international declines followed suit including America’s Wall Street.

Robert Lighthizer, the United States Trade Representative, not only failed to exempt Japan from steel and aluminum tariffs, but the also increased the economic pressure on Japan to negotiate a trade pact between both nations. After all, Trump is disillusioned by countless trade surpluses with major economic powers that he believes are manipulating the situation, to the detriment of America. Therefore, America is seeking a genuine bilateral trade deal with Japan that reigns in the huge trade surplus of Japan.

Hiroshige Seko, the Trade Minister of Japan, said, “We are aware that U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer has been saying the U.S. wants to negotiate a free trade agreement.”

Seko continued, “I understand we will have constructive talks on what’s the best framework for Japan and the U.S., as well as the Asia-Pacific region, under the Japan-U.S. economic dialogue. We want to closely communicate with the United States.”

Hence, Japan is sticking to its non-confrontational approach in the hope of solving important economic issues with America. Yet, behind the scene, Abe will be very disappointed especially given the internal issues he faces. Also, the leader of Japan seeks a joint approach to the Korean Peninsula but even on this issue, it appears that Washington is on a different hymn sheet.

Modern Tokyo News is part of the Modern Tokyo Times group

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