The US said on Friday it would open talks with Japan that could lead to an easing of tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, a longstanding irritant in trade relations.
The commerce department and the US Trade Representative’s Office said the talks were aimed at addressing “global steel and aluminium excess capacity”, restoring market-oriented conditions and preserving critical industries.
The discussions with Japan follow an agreement by the US and the European Union to end a dispute over steel and aluminium tariffs and hammer out a global arrangement to combat “dirty” production and overcapacity.
The future agreement, which is open to other countries, will pose a challenge for China, which produces over half of the world’s steel and which the EU and US accuse of creating overcapacity.
Last year, the Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity estimated the gap between global steelmaking capacity and global demand at an excess of nearly 600 million tons, a sum that will continue to grow given new capacity already planned or under way.
Friday’s announcement comes before separate visits to Japan by commerce secretary Gina Raimondo and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai next week.
In a joint statement, Raimondo and Tai said they were concerned about the impact on US industries “stemming from global non-market excess capacity driven largely by China”.
They said talks with Japan would be aimed at “taking mutually beneficial and effective actions to restore market-oriented conditions and preserve our critical industries”.
- Reuters, with additional material by George Russell