Taipei keeps options open on steel, aluminum tariffs

John Deng, Taiwan’s top trade negotiator, says talks will be sought with the U.S.

Taiwan will try to hold discussions with the United States on President Donald Trump’s proposal to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, before considering other action if necessary, a trade official said.

John Deng, Taiwan’s top trade negotiator, said it was still unclear which countries would be targeted under Trump’s recent proposal to implement tariffs of 25 percent on imports of steel and 10 percent on aluminum.

If Taiwan is affected, it will first seek talks with the U.S. to find a way to deal with the issue and prevent it from spilling over into other areas of bilateral trade, Deng said.

However, as a member of the World Trade Organization, Taiwan would not waive its right to take the matter to that level, if necessary, he said.

In 2017, the U.S. imported US$3.622 billion worth of steel products from Taiwan, which accounted for 5.61 percent of its total steel import value, according to its Customs statistics. U.S. imports of aluminum from Taiwan totaled US$57.12 million in 2017, 0.33 percent of the total import value, the data showed.

Liu Meng-chun, director of the first research division of Taiwan’s Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research, said Trump’s tariff proposal would not help reduce the U.S.’ trade deficit with China.

The U.S. runs its largest trade deficits with China, but the products are mainly Chinese-made motor vehicle parts and clothing, not steel, Liu said.

With the U.S. risking starting a trade war with China, Taiwan should pay heed to the possible repercussions, Liu said yesterday.

Source: The Standard of Taipei

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