Terming the Trump administration’s imposition of tariffs upon almost all aluminium imports “extremely regrettable,” Japan’s Finance Minister Taro Aso indicated on Friday that his government is contemplating initiating proceedings against it at the World Trade Organization.
“It is undecided at this moment, but we are considering it,” said Aso to reporters at a Group of Seven meeting in Canada.
Should Japan choose to bring the matter to the WTO, it will be the second country to do so, trailing only the United States’ northern neighbor. The European Union is also mulling the idea of a WTO complaint as well.
“The unilateral protectionist move does not benefit any country,” opined Aso.
One day prior to Friday’s announcement, Aso met with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in an effort at securing an exception to the aluminium tariff for his country as well as to counsel restraint in determining a new set of duties on imported automobiles.
Far from being alone in standing against the Trump administration’s aluminium tariffs among the Group, the five other governments represented at the summit pronounced condemnations upon the move. France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire lamented that the assemblage has morphed into the “G6 plus one” with the United States representative now on the outside looking in.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker termed the tariffs “protectionism, pure and simple” as they target countries not responsible for the problems the aluminium industry currently faces.
The temporary reprieves from the Trump administration’s blanket aluminium tariffs, which were announced in March and applied all but a small handful of countries initially, lapsed on Friday. Along with the Treasury Department’s sanctions against Russian aluminium smelter Rusal, the blanket aluminium tariffs have been blamed for price and supply uncertainties that have racked the global aluminium trade for the past several weeks.