The European Union and Japan are seeking to be excluded from U.S. steel and aluminium tariffs in talks with U.S. President Donald Trump's trade envoy on Saturday, with the EU warning it will retaliate if Washington does not relent.
Trump signed proclamations Thursday imposing import tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium products, invoking a rarely used U.S. law authorizing presidential action against imports that undermine national security.
The European Commission, which coordinates trade policy for the 28-nation EU, the world's biggest trading bloc, has said it is ready to impose safeguards, tariffs or quotas to protect its own steel and aluminium industries from products diverted to Europe because of the USA measures.
Key U.S. trading partners and businesses have warned the tariffs could backfire, provoking a trade war and hurting allies like the European Union and Japan more than China, their main target.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer (L) and Japan's Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko take part in a meeting with European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom to discuss steel overcapacity, in Brussels, Belgium March 10, 2018.
The real estate tycoon also faced a backlash at home with his top economic advisor Gary Cohn stepping down in opposition to the tariffs and senior Republican allies voicing shock and dismay. Trump tweeted that he spoke with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, saying they are "discussing opening up Japan to much better trade with the U.S. now have a massive $100 Billion Trade Deficit".
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The EU has threatened retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods, including iconic products like bourbon and blue jeans. Both powers, two of the biggest trade partners with the United States, have asked for exemptions from the tariffs.
Meanwhile, Japan's trade minister sought an exemption from the tariffs on steel and aluminium on Saturday and called for "calm-headed behaviour" in the dispute.
"We expressed our concern".
After the meeting, Malmstrom tweeted, "No immediate clarity on the exact USA procedure for exemption.so discussions will continue next week".
"It's clear. We need clarity", European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen said on Friday. "We will look at the impact on Japanese businesses and make a final decision".