Taiwan to continue talks with U.S. on tariff exemption: negotiator

Taipei, Taiwan will continue to negotiate with the United States to seek an exemption from tariffs recently imposed by Washington, in order to help Taiwanese exporters avoid any adversary impact resulting from the financial burden, John Deng (???), a top trade negotiator, said Saturday.

In a telephone interview with CNA, Deng, who is on the way back to Taiwan after leading a delegation to visit the U.S. on March 18 to seek a tariff exemption, said the government will continue to try to convince the U.S. to exempt Taiwan as a whole, and at the same time encourage individual exporters to seek their own exemption.

Deng said the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) will provide the necessary assistance to individual firms which wish to seek an exemption.

On March 8, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an order under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to impose a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum. The duties took effect on Friday, 15 days after the signing.

It was the first time in more than three decades that the law has been invoked to protect a domestic industry from competition brought about by imports.

On Friday, Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told a Senate panel that Trump has decided to grant a temporary exemption to the European Union, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Brazil, Argentina and South Korea as it carries out further negotiations with those countries. But Taiwan was not included in the list of exempt countries.

However, the order signed by Trump leaves open a door to other countries that want to get tariff waivers, as long as they are able to offer a satisfactory alternative during their talks with the United States Trade Representative's office.

Deng said the reason why Taiwan has not been included in the list of exemptions reflected Washington's concerns that some Taiwanese firms imported steel and aluminum from China and processed them into finished goods before selling them to the U.S. market.

He said Trump's tariffs seem to be aimed at taking on China's dumping of its steel and aluminum products in the U.S. market. Washington may be hoping to work with other countries to stop this situation, according to Deng.

He said after he returns to Taiwan , he will meet with Taiwanese exporters to map out a solution.

Deng added that the temporary exemption list from Washington will not take effect until a formal notice is released by the end of April. Before then, Washington welcomes other countries to enter into talks with its trade office for an exemption.

During his stay in U.S., Deng met with many U.S. government officials, scholars from major think tanks, as well as representatives from the business sector, which he said helped him gain a better understanding about the the tariff issue.

After he returns to Taiwan on early Sunday morning, Deng said, he will report to Premier Lai Ching-te (???) as soon as possible and discuss with Lai whether he will lead another delegation to Washington.

According to the MOEA, Taiwan's steel product exports to the U.S. totaled US$1.3 billion in 2017, accounting for 13.16 percent of Taiwan's total steel exports, while its aluminum product exports to the U.S. totaled US$44 million, or 6.15 percent of its total aluminum exports.

In 2017, the U.S. was the largest buyer of Taiwan's steel products, and the sixth-largest buyer of Taiwan's aluminum products, the MOEA said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel