EU, Japan and US met in Brussels to discuss overcapacity, steel on March 10, 2018

At a meeting at the European Commission in Brussels, EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström met today with Minister for Economy and Industry of Japan Hiroshige Seko and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

The meeting was a continuation of the cooperation between the three parties launched at the sidelines of the World Trade Organisation Ministerial in December of last year, to address issues such as trade-distortive practices that lead to severe global overcapacity in sectors like steel.

At the meeting, the three agreed on further steps to take in this ongoing cooperation, such as the development of stronger rules on industrial subsidies, strengthening of notification requirements in the WTO, and intensifying information-sharing on trade-distortive practices.

The three sides released a readout of the meeting afterwards, outlining the joint efforts that were agreed upon.

At the meeting, Commissioner Malmström and Minister Seko also raised with Ambassador Lighthizer US President Trump’s decision to impose additional duties on imports of certain steel and aluminium products into the US under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. They emphasised the strong concern of both the European Union and Japan at the announced measures. As long-standing security partners of the United States, they underlined to Ambassador Lighthizer their expectation that EU and Japanese exports to the US would be exempted from the application of higher tariffs.

Commissioner Malmström also met bilaterally with Ambassador Lighthizer to discuss the issue further, and gain additional clarity on the process surrounding the announced measures. She tweeted after their meeting: ”I had a frank discussion with the US side about the serious pending issue of steel and aluminium tariffs. As a close security and trade partner of the United States, the European Union must be excluded from the announced measures. No immediate clarity on the exact US procedure for exemption however, so discussions will continue next week.”