Sat, Mar 10, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Taiwan to seek talks with US on steel and aluminum

ALL IN:The Taiwan Steel and Iron Industries Association urged the government to seek a US exemption, as last year it was the largest buyer of Taiwan’s steel products

Staff writer, with CNA

Hot-rolled steel coils are pictured at a Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corp factory in Vietnam on Dec. 13 last year.

Photo courtesy of Formosa Plastics Group

Taiwan is to seek negotiations with the US on tariffs to be implemented on steel and aluminum imports into the US, in a bid to protect the interests of Taiwanese exporters, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) said yesterday.

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

In addition, the ministry said it would watch closely how other US trading partners react to the tariffs and would exchange views with them under WTO guidelines.

US President Donald Trump signed an order under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 on 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 measures to protect a domestic industry from competition by imports.

Trump’s move is perceived as less of an effort to preserve national security and more as an attempt to create a giant bargaining chip that he can use in negotiations with the US’ trading partners.

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

The order has also opened a door to other countries that want tariff waivers, as long as they offer the Office of the US Trade Representative satisfactory alternatives.

Trump announced the plan last week and the ministry warned that the tariffs would hurt free trade in the global market.

In response, the Taiwan Steel and Iron Industries Association (台灣區鋼鐵公會) yesterday urged the government and local exporters to work together to communicate with the US government to seek an exemption.

According to the ministry, Taiwan’s steel product exports to the US totaled US$1.3 billion last year, accounting for 13.16 percent of total steel exports, while Taiwan’s aluminum exports to the US totaled US$44 million, or 6.15 percent of total aluminum exports.

Last year, the US was the largest buyer of Taiwan’s steel products and the sixth-largest buyer of Taiwan’s aluminum products, the ministry said.

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