Seko asks USA to exclude Japan from metal tariffs

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The EU exports around five billion euros ($4 billion) worth of steel and a billion euros worth of aluminum to the U.S. each year, and the European Commission, the bloc's executive arm, estimates Trump's tariffs could cost some 2.8 billion euros. But he exempted Canada and Mexico and held out the possibility of excluding other allies.

The talks came days after President Trump announced new tariffs on USA imports of aluminum and steel.

European Union trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom said she's still in the dark about whether the bloc will be let off the hook from planned USA tariffs after "frank" but ultimately fruitless talks with her American counterpart in Brussels on Saturday. Talks would continue next week.

She said: "As a close security and trade partner of the USA, the European Union must be excluded from the announced measures".

Japanese Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko said he had expressed Japanese concern to Lighthizer and warned of major market disruption.

Mr. Seko called for calm-headed behaviour in the dispute.

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At a news conference after the talks, Seko said he told Lighthizer that the tariffs are regrettable as they could adversely affect the entire global economy.

"He only explained the schedule and the procedures", he said.

The minister said Lighthizer did not give a concrete response. "We will look at the impact on Japanese businesses and make a final decision".

Trump later tweeted: "The European Union, wonderful countries who treat the USA very badly on trade, are complaining about the tariffs on Steel & Aluminum".

Lighthizer made no public comments following the Saturday talks.

The three parties did agree on joint steps to tackle global steel overcapacity and distorted market practices, including stronger rules on subsidies and more sharing of information about market abuse.

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Germany - singled out for particular criticism by Trump - accused Washington of protectionism, calling the tariffs an "affront to close partners".

Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen warned Washington on Friday not to expect any concessions to win an exemption.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday warned his United States counterpart Trump against forging ahead with the planned tariffs, saying they risked provoking a mutually destructive "trade war".

Japan's government has warned the measure could hurt its economic relations with the U.S. But ahead of Saturday's talks, Seko also cautioned that "falling to exchanges of unilateral measures will not be in the interest of any country", according to the Kyodo news agency.

"No immediate clarity on the exact USA procedure for exemption however, so discussions will continue next", she said.

It has already started monitoring incoming metal flows to see whether a surge occurs.

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Trump said Thursday that countries with a "security relationship" with the United States could push to be excluded. Under World Trade Organization rules, such counter-measures have to be in place within 90 days of the US tariffs entering force.