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Japan may notify WTO of countermeasures against US tariffs on steel

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The government may soon notify the World Trade Organization of its plans to consider measures against the U.S. imposition of higher tariffs on steel imports, sources close to the matter said Thursday.

Japan has been lobbying the United States, its key ally, to exempt it from President Donald Trump's decision to impose higher tariffs to defend national security. But the request has not been met so far.

For its part, the Japanese government apparently seeks to make its stance clear and advance future ministerial negotiations with an eye to gaining leverage.

Under WTO rules, when a country raises tariffs to protect its domestic industry, affected countries can do the same to cancel out the impact.

The envisaged move is different from a dispute settlement under the WTO.

The Trump administration has imposed tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports.

With the move resulting in an additional 50 billion yen ($452 million) in tariffs, the Japanese government is expected to consider countermeasures with the figure in mind. But it does not plan to identify specific items, according to the sources.

"We will decide whether to actually raise tariffs depending on future developments," a government source said.

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