EU, Japan start push for exemptions from Trump tariffs


Philip Blenkinsop & Alissa de Carbonnel, Reuters

March 10, 2018


BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union and Japan urged the United States on Saturday to grant them exemptions from metal import tariffs, with Tokyo calling for“calm-headed behavior” in a dispute that threatens to spiral into a trade war.


U.S. President Donald Trump set import tariffs on Thursday of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, to come into force in 15 days. But he exempted Canada and Mexico and held out the possibility of excluding other allies.


After meetings with U.S. trade envoy Robert Lighthizer inBrussels, EU and Japanese trade officials said negotiations would need to continue.


Europe’s trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom described talks with Lighthizer as“frank” and said they had not brought clarity on the exemption procedure. Talks would continue next week.


“As a close security and trade partner of the US, the EU must be excluded from the announced measures,” she tweeted after bilateral and trilateral meetings.


Japanese Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko said he had expressed Japanese concern to Lighthizer and warned of major market disruption.


“We call for calm-headed behavior,” he told reporters.


Seko did not go into what conditions might allow Japan to evade tariffs and, asked if Lighthizer had brought up the U.S. trade deficit with Japan, Seko said no.


“He only explained the schedule and the procedures,” he said.


Any Japanese response, he said, would be in line with World Trade Organization rules: