Japan has announced it will impose 15 percent tariffs on U.S. steel imports in retaliation for controversial American duties on Japanese products. This is the latest development in a long running dispute between the world's two largest economies.
The tariffs, announced Monday by Japan's Trade Ministry, will affect fifteen different U.S. steel imports, including airline parts and ball bearings.
Japan expects to collect more than $50 million from the levies, which are set to come into effect next month.
Japanese officials say the measures are a protest against the so-called Byrd Amendment, a controversial U.S. anti-dumping regulation, passed in 2000.
The law, which imposes duties on hot-rolled steel imports, was enacted as a response to charges that Japan, Brazil and other countries were selling products in the United States at unfairly low prices.
In Tokyo, U.S. embassy spokesman Geoffrey Hill says Washington has been expecting the Japanese announcement for a few weeks.
"This is not a surprise decision," said Mr. Hill. "The Japanese Government had indicated some time ago that it would, by the end of July, impose these tariffs if there were no change in the U.S. policy."
The World Trade Organization declared the U.S. law illegal in 2003. The European Union and Canada have already imposed more than $40 million worth of retaliatory sanctions.
The White House has pressed lawmakers to rescind the Byrd Amendment. However the regulation, which has channeled more than a $1 billion in government aid to American businesses, enjoys strong congressional support.
Nevertheless Mr. Hill says President Bush remains committed to resolving the issue.
"This is an important and sensitive issue with Japan," he added. "The Administration is continuing to work with the Congress for some kind of resolution concerning the Byrd amendment."
The Japanese measure marks the first time Japan has imposed punitive trade sanctions on the United States.