Taiwan to seek negotiations with U.S. on steel, aluminum tariffs

Taipei, Taiwan will seek negotiations with the United States on tariffs to be implemented on steel and aluminum imports into the U.S., in a bid to protect the interests of Taiwanese exporters, according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA).

A statement issued by the Bureau of Foreign Trade on behalf of the MOEA Friday said that the ministry will follow measures announced by the White House Thursday on the tariff issue and will demand that Washington enter talks with Taipei.

In addition, the MOEA said it will watch closely how other U.S. trading partners will react to the tariff issues and will exchange views with them under World Trade Organization (WTO) guidelines.

U.S. President Donald Trump signed an order under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 Thursday to impose a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum. The duties are expected to take effect in 15 days.

It was the first time in more than three decades that the law has been invoked to implement protectionist measures to protect a domestic industry from competition imposed by imports.

Trump's move is perceived as less like an effort to preserve national security but more like an attempt to create a giant bargaining chip that the president can use in trade with Washington's trading partners.

According to the order, Canada and Mexico have been exempted from the tariffs temporarily and if they want to avoid the duties permanently, the two countries will have to agree to U.S. demands in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The order has also opened a door to other countries that want to get tariff waivers, as long as they will be able to offer a satisfactory alternative during their talks with the United States Trade Representative office.

Trump announced the tariff plan last week and the MOEA warned that the tariffs will hurt free trade in the global market. In response to the new tariffs imposed by the U.S., the Taiwan Steel and Iron Industries Association urged Friday that the government and local exporters work together to communicate with the U.S. government to seek an exemption.

According to the the MOEA, Taiwan's steel product exports to the U.S. totaled US$1.3 billion in 2017, accounting for 13.16 percent of the total steel exports, while Taiwan's aluminum product exports to the U.S. totaled US$44 million, or 6.15 percent of the total aluminum exports.

In 2017, the U.S. was the largest buyer of Taiwan's steel products, and the sixth-largest buyer of Taiwan's aluminum products, the MOEA said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel