Japan’s aluminium industry urges Trump to pull back tariffs

TOKYO • Japan’s aluminium industry is calling on US President Donald Trump to rethink his plan to levy a 10% tariff on all imports of the metal, saying the action would hurt the country’s sales and could spill over into other industries, triggering a rise in global protectionism.

“Our biggest concern is that individual producers in this country will lose business,” Yoshihisa Tabata, ED of the Japan Aluminium Association, said in an interview in Tokyo yesterday. “What makes things worse is that this could push the world into protectionism, hurting the viability of broader industries that are based on international division of labour.” The group represents about 130 firms.

Trump has vowed to stick to his plan to impose across-the-board tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium imports even as opposition grows from allies and adversaries alike, and he expects to sign a formal order this week or soon after. While there’ll be no country exclusions, there’ll be “an exemption procedure for particular cases where you need to have exemptions so that business can move forward”, Peter Navarro, director of the National Trade Council at the White House, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.

Japan buys primary aluminium from overseas and processes it into sheet and extrusions used in vehicles and heat exchangers for domestic sale and export. While the country is not a major shipper to the US, there’s a risk prices in Asian markets will be hurt by inflows of Chinese metal that are diverted from the US. — Bloomberg