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Japan Rules Out Possible Bilateral FTA Talks with U.S., Objects to Section 232 Steel Proclamation
March 29, 2018


In response to President Trump's decisions to exclude japan from the list of countries exempt from Section 232 steel tariffs, Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso has vowed not to succumb to any American attempts to use promises of tariff exemptions "[to] draw Japan into bilateral talks on a free trade agreement."

In a Presidential Proclamation issued last week, President Trump listed several countries with whom the United States enjoys "an important security relationship" and, as a result, would be exempt from the Section 232 steel tariffs until May 1st:  Australia, Argentina, South Korea, Brazil, and the EU, considered both collectively and individually.

According to Reuters Business News, Aso expressed disapproval at the decisions, as Japan only exports specialty steel products which the United States is currently unable to produce: "If U.S. companies want these products, they need to buy them from Japan.  It will be the U.S. companies that suffer.  In addition, he expressed doubt that any bilateral FTA negotiations with the United States could be beneficial for the Japanese economy:  "When two countries negotiate, the stronger country always gets stronger."

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