Japan's U.S. ambassador says metals tariff talks 'robust'

By David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Negotiations between Japan and the United States over U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs are "robust" with a U.S.-EU deal to ease the duties serving as a "template," Japan's ambassador to Washington said on Monday.

"We have accelerated discussions. There has been robust negotiation taking place, including at the ministerial level," Ambassador Koji Tomita said during a virtual forum hosted by the Washington International Trade Association (WITA).

He said the U.S.-EU quota agreement https://www.reuters.com/business/aerospace-defense/eu-us-end-clash-over-steel-aluminium-tariffs-work-global-deal-2021-10-31 that is now allowing some steel and aluminum into the United States duty free is a template for the talks and "the basis on which we are working."

Tomita declined to discuss details of the negotiations, but said the two countries needed to work together on addressing the underlying problems plaguing steel trade, namely excess global production capacity.

The United States is also launching talks with Britain https://www.reuters.com/article/usa-trade-britain-steel-idAFKBN2JT1TQ to ease the Trump-era tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum, but U.S. steelmakers are wary of increasing import volumes of steel, particularly that made with coal-fired blast furnaces.

Stavros Lambrinidis, the European Union's ambassador to Washington, said at the same WITA forum that the U.S.-EU metals agreement aims to address China's excess capacity and "production of dirty steel."

"As we are investing massively in the U.S. and the EU certainly in climate transition and in sustainable energy and technologies, we cannot afford to have carbon imported into our economies" from "producers who refuse to take similar measures," Lambrinidis said.

Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Kelly Milton told the forum that further talks with the EU on a sustainable steel agreement would seek to discourage trade in steel made with high carbon emissions, while ensuring that domestic policies are in place to encourage industries to reduce emissions. She did not provide specifics on the discussions.

(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Sandra Maler)

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