For the United States to impose tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum products, the European Union, Japan and other regions and countries have recently brewing response measures, ready to fight back at the level of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and stressed that through strengthening regional cooperation to resist the threat of trade protection.
Japan's European Union plans to respond fiercely
According to the report of the Japan Broadcasting Association (NHK) on the 17th, the Japanese government is making final arrangements and will formally notify the World Trade Organization that it is prepared to retaliate against the US tariff measures.
According to NHK, Japan considers levying tariffs on US$409 million worth of U.S. exports, which is equivalent to U.S. tariffs but does not disclose specific product categories.
President Trump of the United States announced this year that the import of steel and aluminum products will be subject to tariffs of 25% and 10%, respectively, on the ground of national security. Japan has not obtained steel-aluminum tariff exemptions like some American allies.
Although Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had visited the United States earlier to seek deeper cooperation in the field of trade, it was not effective. At present, Japan is also shifting its focus to regional cooperation.
According to a report by Kyodo News on the 17th, the "Japan-Korea Economic Man Conference" held in Tokyo and other high-level corporate executives ended the two-day schedule on the 16th. Taking into account the issue of US-China trade, the joint statement adopted by the meeting emphasized the need to prevent the emergence of "protectionism that presents a trade war situation." In order to realize the Asian wide-area economic circle through a large-scale free trade agreement (FTA), the statement puts forward cooperation at the private level.
At the press conference, Sasaki Akio, president of the Japan-Korea Economic Association and Mitsubishi Corporation’s special advisor, said, “We are committed to cooperating with each other in the future. The important thing is to conclude a high-quality agreement at an early date. We look forward to progress in the China-Japan-South Korea FTA talks. .
In addition to Japan, the EU, which enjoys the temporary exemption of imports of steel and aluminum, will also strengthen regional solidarity. EU leaders held the summit on the 16th and it is clear that they will not engage in tariff negotiations under the circumstance of “gun pointing”.
European Union President Tusk said on the 16th that the unity of the EU is the key. "If we want to discuss trade liberalization with the United States, this means that the United States must give us a permanent exemption from steel and aluminum tariffs."
"The EU and the U.S. are friends and partners. Therefore, U.S. tariffs are unreasonable on the basis of national security, and the idea that the EU poses a threat to the U.S. is even more ridiculous."
According to sources quoted by the European Union, the EU leaders agreed after the dinner that they can negotiate with the United States on deepening the cooperation on liquefied natural gas in exchange for a permanent exemption.
Concern is still spreading
The United States has continued to expand its irrational tariffs and has caused widespread concern.
According to reports, Trump has proposed to impose a 20% tariff on imported cars, and he also proposes to impose more stringent emission standards than domestic cars at the time of import.
The U.S. Automobile Research Center said that this proposal may allow 25 to 87% of cars sold in the United States to be subject to new tariffs, and the price of each car will increase by $470 to $2,200.
In response, all parties have recently become more worried about the U.S. tariff threat and worried about the economic slowdown caused by trade frictions.
South Korea has asked for unreasonable US import duties. The World Trade Organization confirmed on the 16th that South Korea has filed a consultation request on the United States to impose tariffs on imports of washing machines and photovoltaic battery products.
Relevant documents show that the ROK believes that the United States has planned to implement safeguard measures on the ground that its own industry has suffered "serious damage or serious damage." However, it did not give a reasonable explanation on how to reach this conclusion. The ROK accused the United States of imposing compulsory tariffs that violated the WTO's Safeguards Agreement and other related regulations.
The request for consultation was the first link in the WTO dispute settlement mechanism. If the consultations do not reach satisfactory results within 60 days, South Korea may request the WTO to set up an expert group to review the case.
In January of this year, the United States announced that it would impose tariffs on imports of washing machines and photovoltaic cells and components, triggering strong dissatisfaction from the ROK.
Major U.S. trading partners have also worried about the impact of U.S. tariffs. Tis Peterson, an economist at the Bertelsmann Foundation in Germany, said that due to the U.S. government’s threat to implement punitive tariffs, the German government may cut economic growth expectations.
The European Central Bank issued a communique last week saying that the recently announced tariff measures of the United States pose a threat to global economic growth, and the risks arising from the rise of protectionism will affect investment decisions and may have a greater impact on global economic activity.
In this communique, the European Central Bank focused on the analysis of the harm that the US trade protectionism measures may bring to the global economy.
The communique stated that a significant escalation in trade tensions may undermine global trade activities and the process of sustained economic recovery. If the United States substantially increases import tariffs for all trading partners, and trading partners implement corresponding retaliatory measures, then global trade activity will decline, and the United States may be particularly affected. Rising prices of imported goods will increase production costs and reduce household purchasing power, thus affecting consumption, investment, and employment. In addition, economic uncertainty will also aggravate global financial market turmoil.
Working together to fight against protectionism
China’s Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization Zhang Xiangchen pointed out at the WTO General Council meeting held in Geneva last week that the recent US-based “aluminum 232” tariff measures for steel and aluminum are not based on “national security” considerations, but on domestic industries. The protection act is essentially a trade protection measure.
Zhang Xiangchen stated that the actual limited imports of steel and aluminum tariffs by the United States accounted for only about 5% of the U.S. domestic steel consumption, which was not related to maintaining the so-called "national security." He cited the U.S. Department of Commerce’s investigation report and the U.S. Department of Defense data that the U.S. steel imports accounted for only 16% of its domestic consumption, while nearly 70% of the import volume came from members who were temporarily or permanently exempted from the United States. The US defense industry needs only 3% of its domestic consumption of steel, and its domestic steel production is 28 times that of its defense industry.
Zhang Xiangchen pointed out that the United States seeks "voluntary export restrictions" that are prohibited by the WTO rules in negotiations with other members on the exemption of steel and aluminum tariffs. This is a clear violation of the WTO rules and allows global trade to return to the quota era. It is clearly a reversal of history.
The so-called “voluntary export restrictions” means that the exporting country automatically limits the export quantity or amount of certain commodities within a certain period of time under the requirements or pressure of the importing country. If the exporting country exceeds the limit, it will stop exporting itself.
Zhang Xiangchen reiterated China's view that the recent steel-aluminum tariff measures imposed by the United States have seriously disrupted the international trade order and impaired the multilateral trading system, which is obviously discriminatory and has a serious lack of transparency. China recently submitted a request for consultations to the United States under the WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism, not only to safeguard China’s own export interests, but also to safeguard the basic principles and values of the WTO. China urges all members to urge the United States to abide by its WTO obligations and immediately withdraw its recently implemented steel and aluminum tariffs and maintain a normal international trade order.