A trade group representing Japanese aluminium stakeholders has joined the chorus of calls for United States President Donald Trump to give second thoughts to the planned 10-percent tariff upon imported aluminium his administration announced last week.
Yoshihisa Tabata, executive director of the Japan Aluminium Association, told Bloomberg on Monday that the tariffs may not only harm Japanese aluminium makers.
“Our biggest concern is that individual producers in this country will lose business. 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 labor.”
Though Trump has gone on record as standing firmly against granting exceptions, comments from administration officials reveal that there may still be hope for importers. Despite no exclusions for entire countries, Peter Navarro, director of the National Trade Council at the White House, said “an exemption procedure for particular cases where you need to have exemptions so that business can move forward.”
While Japan mines no bauxite and refines no alumina, the country has a respectable business of processing primary aluminium into sheet and extrusions for automobiles and heat exchangers, most of which is exported. The United States is not among Japan’s main aluminium buyers, but experts fear that Chinese aluminium that is no longer profitable to be sold in the U.S. may lead to a glut in Asia, dropping prices for the metal in that part of the world.
The Japanese Aluminium Association, which represents around 130 companies, is the latest of a number of aluminium and steel stakeholders who have spoke out against Trump’s tariffs in the past few days. Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. president and steel federation chairman Kosei Shindo warned last week that tariffs on steel and aluminium may well lead to a series of unintended consequences, including sparking off a series of retaliatory trade actions that could spread beyond aluminium and steel.