Japan to bear brunt of US titanium probe

The US opened an investigation into the potential risk to nationwide safety posed by titanium sponge imports – a product broadly used within the aerospace business and primarily bought in Japan.

This determination was introduced Monday night by the Commerce Division and will represent a brand new scorching spot between Washington and Tokyo as they put together to enter into formal negotiations on a doable commerce deal.

The titanium sponge survey is the fifth of its variety launched by the Trump administration. It cited the ability to dam or restrict commerce flows in the US on the idea of nationwide safety issues way more steadily than its predecessors.

Final month, US investigators accomplished a long-awaited report on the dangers that motorcar imports pose to nationwide safety. This report has not been made public, however has raised severe issues amongst European and Japanese policymakers and leaders.

"The titanium sponge can be utilized in a lot of protection functions, from helicopter blades and tank armor to planes and fighter planes," he stated. stated Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in an announcement. "The Division of Commerce's Bureau of Business and Safety will conduct a radical, truthful and clear investigation earlier than making a advice to the President."

Toho Titanium and Osaka Titanium Applied sciences, the 2 main Japanese titanium producers Sponge, each declined to remark, saying it was too early to guage any affect. Inventories in each firms fell by three% in Tokyo commerce.

US imports of titanium sponges amounted to $ 208 million in 2017, 86% of which got here from Japan, in accordance with knowledge revealed by Chad Bown of the Peterson Institute. for worldwide affairs, in a tweet. Nonetheless, he famous that this survey had a a lot smaller "financial magnitude" in comparison with the $ 350 billion in auto imports, and even nationwide safety investigations on imports of metal and aluminum , which paved the best way for appreciable tariffs on metals produced by some America's closest allies final yr.

The US stated it launched the nationwide safety inquiry after accepting a petition from Titanium Metals, an Ohio-based producer. As info, the Commerce Division stated that "a single facility in the US has the capability to course of sponge titanium ore utilized in manufacturing." He added that the titanium sponge was troublesome to retailer for lengthy intervals because it "degraded".

Titanium Metals had beforehand requested the US authorities to impose anti-dumping and countervailing duties on imports of titanium sponges from Japan and Kazakhstan, the opposite main international supply metallic.

The titanium sponge survey comes as Robert Lighthizer, US Commerce Consultant, said that he was keen to begin commerce negotiations with Japan – which have been launched after a gathering between Donald Trump, President of the US, and Shinzo. Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister, final September. Nonetheless, it’s troublesome to know what progress nations could make in all negotiations so long as the specter of doable tariffs within the automotive sector persists.

Robin Harding's complementary report back to Tokyo.

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