By MARI YAMAGUCHI
TOKYO (AP) — U.S. Trade Representative Katharine Tai and Japan’s trade and industry minister agreed Wednesday to work to resolve a dispute over American tariffs on steel and aluminum, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said.
Tai and Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Koichi Hagiuda met Wednesday for talks that followed a visit earlier in the week by Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.
The two U.S. envoys have been visiting the region in a first obvious push by President Joe Biden’s administration to soothe frictions left over from Donald Trump’s days in office. The effort comes as prices for steel have surged as economies shift into high gear after slowing during the pandemic.
It also comes as major economies double down on trying to curb excess output in both industries.
METI said in a statement that the two sides had confirmed plans for negotiations on resolving the tariffs issue and addressing global excess production capacity.
The two officials “also discussed the U.S.’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific region, addressing market-distorting measures,” and cooperation on preparing for ministerial level talks of the World Trade Organization, it said. Those talks are due to begin Nov. 30 in Geneva.
Trump imposed extra tariffs of 25% on imports of steel and 10% on imports of aluminum, citing a need to protect American industries. That move angered U.S. allies in Japan, South Korea and Europe.
In meetings with Tai and Raimondo, Japanese officials said they were emphatic about having the tariffs problem resolved.
The U.S. and EU recently resolved their dispute over the punitive tariffs, with the U.S. agreeing to increase imports from the bloc. The deal helped forestall the imposition of retaliatory EU tariffs on billions of dollars worth of imports of American products such as Harley Davidson motorcycles and Kentucky bourbon. Those duties had been due to take effect in December.
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