Japan plans to impose retaliatory tariffs of up to ¥5.7 billion (US$51 million) against US steel products, a Japanese trade official said yesterday, escalating a spat between the world's two largest economies over antidumping measures.
Speculation had been rising that Japan would impose a 15 percent tariff in September on about 10 products in retaliation for duties imposed by the US on Japanese steel products under the so-called Byrd amendment, an antidumping law ruled illegal by the WTO.
Ikuyo Katsuta, a tariffs official at the Japanese Trade Ministry, confirmed that Tokyo plans to go ahead with the tariffs, but she would not give a timetable or say what products would be targeted.
"We are planning it," she said when asked if Japan would impose the tariffs. The retaliatory duties -- which Tokyo has not imposed before -- would amount to ¥5.7 billion, she said.
Japan imports secondary steel products, such as ball bearings, from the US and other countries.
Japan's top government spokesman said that Tokyo would prefer that the US repeals the Byrd amendment -- passed in October 2000 and named after West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd -- without the threat of tariffs.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda added, however, that he does not believe that imposing such duties would hurt the ties with Washington.
Washington placed tariffs on hot-rolled steel from Japan, Brazil and others starting in 1999 on allegations that those countries were selling their products at unfairly low prices. The Byrd amendment imposed such penalty tariffs and also awarded American companies the revenue collected by the US government on those duties.
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