(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
SEOUL/TOKYO - Asian steel exporting nations took a wait-and-see approach to plans announced by US President Donald Trump to impose hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum, saying they would talk to US officials and see details of the plans before responding.
Fears of an escalating trade war, hit the share prices of Asian steelmakers and manufacturers supplying US markets particularly hard on Friday following a rough night on Wall Street.
Trump said the duties of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum would be formally announced next week, although White House officials later said some details still needed to be ironed out.
Steel has become key focus for Trump, who pledged to restore the US industry and punish what he sees as unfair trade practices, particularly by China.
Although China only accounts for 2 percent of US steel imports, its massive industry expansion has helped produce a global glut of steel that has driven down prices.
"The impact on China is not big,” said Li Xinchuang, vice secretary-general of the China Iron and Steel Association. "Nothing can be done about Trump. We are already numb to him."
South Korea, the third-largest steel exporter to the United States after Canada and Brazil, said it will keep talking to US officials until Washington's plans for tariffs are finalized.
South Korean trade minister Kim Hyun-chong has been in the United States since Feb. 25, the trade ministry said. Kim has met US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and other officials to raise concerns over the so-called Section 232 probe and consider a plan that would minimize the damage to South Korean companies.