TOKYO – Japan took a retaliatory step against the American steel industry Monday and announced it will impose 15 percent levies on U.S. steel imports starting Sept. 1, urging the United States to promptly deal with a long-festering dispute between the world’s two largest economies.
The tariffs, which could run as high as 5.7 billion yen ($51 million), will target ballbearings, airplane parts and other steel products, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said.
It would be the first time Japan announced a retaliatory step against a trade partner.
Trade Minister Shoichi Nakagawa said Tokyo had no choice but to move after realizing there was very little chance that the amendment would be repealed before the end of the fiscal year ending Sept. 30.
“Therefore, the Japanese government has decided that there is a need to more effectively pressure the U.S. by implementing retaliatory measures and promoting the repeal of the amendment in Congress,” he said in a statement.
Japan has long demanded the repeal of duties imposed by the United States on Japanese steel products under the so-called Byrd amendment, an anti-dumping law ruled illegal by the World Trade Organization.
The tariffs would not be imposed if the Byrd Amendment – named after West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd – were repealed by Sept. 1, trade officials said.
Vice Trade Minister Hideji Sugiyama stressed that Japan has followed appropriate procedures before deciding on the retaliation, and said that the measure “should not harm Japan-U.S. relations.”
The Japanese decision follows similar moves by the 25-nation European Union and Canada, which imposed penalty tariffs on millions of dollars’ worth of U.S. imports in retaliation for the amendment on May 1.
Washington placed tariffs on hot-rolled steel from Japan, Brazil and others starting in 1999 on allegations that those countries were selling their products at unfairly low prices.
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