MOEA to send official to US to talk tariff exclusion

Staff Writer, with CNA, WASHINGTON

Sun, Mar 18, 2018 - Page 1

The government is planning to send a high-level Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) official to the US to negotiate the exemption of Taiwanese steel and aluminum exports from US tariffs, an official at Taiwan’s representative office in the US said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the visit would take place before Friday, when the tariffs are to take effect.

Minister Without Portfolio John Deng (鄧振中), who doubles as head of the Executive Yuan’s Office of Trade Negotiations, was later yesterday quoted by the Central News Agency as saying that he would head the delegation to the US, which is to leave today.

The White House on March 8 announced that US President Donald Trump signed an order under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to impose a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum.

However, the order makes it clear that nations that wish to obtain a waiver for these tariffs are allowed to come up with “satisfactory alternative means” to address trade imbalances.

For Canada and Mexico, the only nations that have been temporarily excluded from the tariffs, this means complying with US demands when renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The day that the tariffs were announced, the ministry issued a statement saying that it would seek negotiations with the US on the matter.

The government is hoping that the ministry official will be able to convey the importance of Taiwan as a trade partner and a security ally to the US, the official said.

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

Last year, the US was the largest buyer of Taiwanese steel products and the sixth-largest buyer of Taiwanese aluminum products.

Taiwan has reiterated its commitment to standing with the US to protect regional peace and stability, the official said.