Japan trade minister calls for calm heads over USA tariffs

This time, China can fight back against tariffs

This time, China can fight back against tariffs

"As a close security and trade partner of the U.S., the European Union must be excluded from the announced measures", Ms Malmstrom tweeted following the meeting.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said the bloc was "not preparing for battle" but had to be ready to protect its industry.

After meetings with USA trade envoy Robert Lighthizer in Brussels, EU and Japanese trade officials said negotiations would need to continue.

Trade representatives for Japan and the European Union met with the US trade representative Saturday in an effort to avoid a trade war over President Donald Trump's new tariffs on aluminum and steel.

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker on Friday threatened to hit big-name USA brands such as Harley Davidson motorbikes and Levi's jeans with import duties, prompting Trump to fire back a threat to tax cars from the EU.

Japan's government has warned the measure could hurt its economic relations with the U.S. But ahead of Saturday's talks, Seko also cautioned that "falling to exchanges of unilateral measures will not be in the interest of any country", according to the Kyodo news agency. Japan has decried the "grave impact" the Trump measures could have on the world economy.

The talks, initially set to address China's oversupply of steel, have always been in the diary, but after Trump's dramatic announcement, they became the first opportunity to defuse the crisis.

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Striking a defiant tone, European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen called Trump's speech protectionist, saying it remained unclear how a potential exclusion process would work. "We will have to protect our industry with rebalancing measures, safeguards".

Mr Trump signed an order on Thursday to set import tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum, to come into effect in 15 days. However, it took on more urgency after Trump's tariff move.

On Friday, the European Union said it was not clear whether the bloc would be exempt from Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs. He also added Australia to the list of likely carve-outs.

The EU's top official on Wednesday warned US President Donald Trump against starting a trade war, as the bloc prepared to retaliate against Washington's threatened metals tariffs with duties on peanut butter, orange juice and bourbon whiskey.

Complicating matters, Trump indicated on Friday that Australia's carveout was linked to an unspecified "security agreement" outside of trade policy. "It could disrupt the steel and aluminium markets of the world and have a negative impact", Mr Seko told reporters after his meeting with US Trade Representative Lighthizer in which he sought an exemption for Japanese producers.

The EU exported about 5.5 million tons of steel to the USA a year ago.

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