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US Willing to Talk About Steel Tariffs with China

The top U.S. trade representative says Washington is willing to talk with Beijing on stiff tariffs it recently imposed on Chinese steel exports. Robert Zoellick also says most of China's steel products are not affected by the new duties.

Halfway through a three-day visit to Beijing, Mr. Zoellick says Washington will not impose the new taxes on most of China's steel exports.

The United States recently levied tariffs of up to 30 percent on many steel imports, drawing complaints from China, Japan, other steel-producing nations, and the European Union. Mr. Zoellick told a group of economics students in Beijing that Washington is willing to hold talks on the products still subject to the tariff. He urged Chinese officials to keep the steel dispute in perspective because it involves just a small portion of China's exports to the United States. "The United States imported $104 billion of goods from China last year," he said. "We have a trade deficit of about $80 billion. Those are big numbers, even for the United States. So if you take the $200 million of steel, it comes out to be about 0.2 of one percent."

China, a new member of the World Trade Organization, filed its first complaint to the body over the U.S. tariff. Chinese steel manufacturers are banding together to get Beijing to press Washington to change its mind.

Chinese officials have said the tariffs could hurt China's steel industry and might spark a global round of trade protectionism.

Other important U.S. trading partners also complained, and some threatened to retaliate by imposing tariffs on U.S. made products.