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U.S. allies see Trump’s steel tariffs as an insult

March 8, 2018 at 7:15 PM

President Trump welcomes Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the White House in February 2017. (Andrew Harnik/Associated Press)

TOKYO —  No world leader has tried harder to get on President Trump’s good side than Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Whether racing to New York the day after the 2016 election and presenting Trump with a $3,755 gold-plated golf driver, or taking him out on the golf course and serving hamburgers for lunch, Abe has cultivated a close personal relationship with his American counterpart.

And on a policy front, Abe has been an enthusiastic supporter of almost everything Trump has said, especially when it comes to putting “maximum pressure” on North Korea.

But now, Japan, which is not just led by a friendly politician but also is a key security ally of the United States, looks likely to be slapped with tariffs on its steel exports to the United States. And to add insult to injury, the reason, Trump says, is rooted in national security.

“The U.S. is suddenly treating Japan as a target,” said Tsuyoshi Kawase, a professor of international trade policy at Sophia University in Tokyo. “The Japanese side is bewildered and confused.”

That bewilderment, along with anger and frustration, has rippled across the capitals of U.S. allies — countries that figured, no matter the bumps in relations with Washington, they would wind up on the same side against China in any dispute over steel or unfair trade practices. And yet suddenly there is talk of a trade war between the United States and its supposed friends.

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Here's how leaders around the world are reacting to President Trump's proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum. (Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)

Even those leaders who have grown accustomed to the zigs and zags of the Trump White House say this could be different. The consequences of Trump’s targeting other priorities — the Paris climate agreement and the Iran nuclear deal chief among them — have not had an immediate, concrete effect. But the tariffs could soon put citizens in ally nations out of work, and if a trade war escalates, all sides could feel the pain, officials from Brasília to Brussels to Seoul say.

“The impulsiveness of the decision caught us by surprise,” said Diego Bonomo, the head of foreign trade at the National Trade Association of Brazil. His country is the second-largest exporter of steel to the United States.

“It’s an economic shot in the foot,” he said. “When they impose tariffs to hurt Brazilian steel, they hurt their own coal exports and exports of products that use steel.”

Trump on Thursday signed an order imposing import tariffs of 25 percent for steel and 10 percent for aluminum, despite a furious last-minute lobbying effort against the decision from Washington’s closest allies and top Republicans.

He excluded Canada (the top exporter of steel and aluminum to the United States) and Mexico (No. 4 for steel) on the condition they meet the White House’s demands on revisions to the North American Free Trade Agreement. And he left open the possibility that additional nations with a “security relationship” with the United States could seek an exemption.

Related: [Trump, working to finalize tariffs plan, to offer temporary exemption to Canada, Mexico ]

Trump’s order came hours after Japan and 10 other countries formalized a new Pacific free-trade agreement, notably without the participation of the United States, which dropped out of those talks early in the Trump administration.

Jan. 14, 2019 | President Trump speaks to Coach Dabo Swinney, left, as he welcomes Clemson, the college football national champion, to the White House. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
Jan. 14, 2019 | Trump talks to the media about the table full of fast food in the State Dining Room of the White House for the Clemson reception. (Susan Walsh/AP)
Jan. 14, 2019 | President Trump stops to talk to reporters as he departs from the South Lawn at the White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Jan. 11, 2019 | President Trump holds up a photo of a “typical standard wall design” as he speaks during a roundtable discussion on border security and community safety in the Cabinet Room of the White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Jan. 10, 2019 | Trump, right, salutes a U.S. Border Patrol helicopter, with agents aboard, as it flies over the Rio Grande during his visit to the U.S.-Mexico border near Mission, Tex. (Leah Millis/Reuters)
Jan. 9, 2019 | Trump holds a signing ceremony for anti-human-trafficking legislation in the Oval Office. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Jan. 9, 2019 | Trump, left, with Vice President Pence, speak to journalists before going into the Senate policy luncheon on Capitol Hill on the 19th day of the partial government shutdown. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
Jan. 8, 2019 | President Trump speaks on television from the Oval Office during a national address on border security on the 18th day of the partial government shutdown. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Jan. 4, 2019 | Trump, with Vice President Pence, second from left; Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen; House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), second from right; and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), speaks in the White House Rose Garden. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Jan. 3, 2019 | Reporters are reflected on an exit sign in the White House press briefing room as Trump, with members of the National Border Patrol Council, talks about border security on the 13th day of the partial government shutdown. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Jan, 2, 2019 | Trump leads a meeting of his Cabinet with a poster featuring himself spread out on the conference table at the White House. At left is David Bernhardt, acting interior secretary, and Patrick Shanahan, acting defense secretary. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)
Dec. 27, 2018 | Trump greets members of the military during a stop at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
Dec. 26, 2018 | Trump speaks at a hanger rally at al-Asad Air Base in Iraq. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
Dec. 25, 2018 | Trump makes a video call to service members from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard on Christmas. (Zach Gibson/Bloomberg News/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)
Dec. 24, 2018 | Trump and first lady Melania Trump speak on the phone with children as they track Santa Claus with the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) on Christmas Eve in the State Dining Room of the White House. (Oliver Contreras for The Washington Post)
Dec. 21, 2018 | Trump, with Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), by his side, participates in a signing ceremony for the First Step Act and the Juvenile Justice Reform Act in the Oval Office at the White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Dec. 20, 2018 | Trump arrives to speak during a signing ceremony for the farm bill in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Dec. 18, 2018 | Trump, center, watches as a mother shows a photo of her slain son at a White House roundtable on a report from the Federal Commission on School Safety. Trump is flanked by Andrew Pollack, the father of a shooting victim of the Parkland, Fla., massacre; and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Dec. 18, 2018 | Trump signs the “supporting our veterans during their transition from uniformed service to civilian life"executive order in the Oval Office. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Dec. 15, 2018 | Trump pauses in the rain among holiday wreaths on graves at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. during Wreaths Across America Day. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
Dec. 13, 2018 | Trump, second from right, participates in a meeting with governors-elect in the Cabinet Room at White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Dec. 12, 2018 | Trump shakes hands with Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) during a signing ceremony in the Roosevelt Room of the White House for an executive order establishing the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Dec. 11, 2018 | Trump, center right, debates with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), left, and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), right, as Vice President Pence listens during their meeting in the Oval Office. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Dec. 11, 2018 | Trump participates in a signing ceremony for H.R. 390, the “Iraq and Syria genocide relief and accountability act of 2018” in the Oval Office. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Dec. 8, 2018 | Trump tosses the coin before the Army-Navy football game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke/AP)
Dec. 6, 2018 | Trump and the first lady greet visitors during a Hanukkah reception in the East Room of the White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Dec. 5, 2018 | Trump and first lady Melania Trump, along with the Obamas, Clintons and Carters, attend the funeral for former president George H.W. Bush at Washington National Cathedral. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)
Dec. 3, 2018 | The president and the first lady view Bush’s casket in the Capitol Rotunda. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Dec. 1, 2018 | Trump meets with China’s president, Xi Jinping, at the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
Nov. 30, 2018 | From left, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sign the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement before the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires. (Martin Mejia/AP)
Nov. 30, 2018 | World leaders gather for a group photo at the start of the G-20 summit at the Costa Salguero Center in Buenos Aires. (Ricardo Mazalan/AP)
Nov. 30, 2018 | Trump and first lady Melania Trump, center left, and White House advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, right, are welcomed by Argentina's president, Mauricio Macri, left, and his wife, Juliana Awada, upon arriving at the Colon Theater for a gala in Buenos Aires. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
Nov. 29, 2018 | Trump stops to talk with reporters about his former personal attorney Michael Cohen as he walks to Marine One on the White House South Lawn to depart for the G-20 summit in Argentina. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Nov. 27, 2018 | Trump speaks during an interview with Washington Post reporters in the Oval Office. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Nov. 26, 2018 | During a rally in Biloxi, Miss., Trump encourages voters to support Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) in a runoff race against Democrat Mike Espy. (Rogelio V. Solis/AP)
Nov. 22, 2018 | Trump talks with troops via teleconference from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. (Susan Walsh/AP)
Nov. 22, 2018 | Trump is presented with a challenge coin as he meets with members of the U.S. Coast Guard stationed at United States Coast Guard Station Lake Worth Inlet in Riviera Beach, Fla., (Susan Walsh/AP)
Nov. 22, 2018 | Trump and first lady Melania Trump sit with their family as they have Thanksgiving Day dinner at their Mar-a-Lago estate. (Susan Walsh/AP)
Nov. 20, 2018 | Trump pardons the turkey named Peas in the Rose Garden of the White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Nov. 19, 2018 | Trump and first lady Melania Trump view the arrival of the White House Christmas tree. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Nov. 17, 2018 | Trump, center, tours the charred wreckage of the Skyway Villa Mobile Home and RV Park in Paradise, Calif., with Governor-elect Gavin Newsom, left, FEMA head William “Brock” Long, third from right, Gov. Jerry Brown and Mayor Jody Jones, right. (Leah Millis/Reuters)
Nov. 13, 2018 | Trump, left, participates in the Diwali ceremonial lighting of the Diya at the White House. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)
Nov. 11, 2018 | Trump visits the American Cemetery of Suresnes, outside Paris, as part of Veterans Day and the marking the 100th anniversary of the Nov. 11, 1918, armistice ending World War I. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
Nov. 10, 2018 | Trump shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris. Trump is joining other world leaders at centennial commemorations in Paris to mark the end of World War I. (Christophe Petit Tesson/AP)
Nov. 4, 2018 | Trump arrives for a campaign rally at McKenzie Arena in Chattanooga, Tenn. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)
Nov. 4, 2018 | Trump arrives to attend a campaign rally at Middle Georgia Regional Airport in Macon. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Nov. 2, 2018 | Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally at Huntington Tri-State Airport in Huntington, W.Va. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)
Nov. 1, 2018 | Trump discusses at the White House illegal immigration and asylum in the context of a migrant caravan headed toward the southern border. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)
Oct. 31, 2018 | Ivanka Trump, right, and White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow, center, listen as the president speaks during the “Our Pledge to America’s Workers” event in the State Dining Room of the White House. (Evan Vucci/AP)
Oct. 30, 2018 | Trump and first lady Melania Trump place stones and flowers on a memorial as they pay their respects to the shooting victims at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
Oct. 27, 2018 | Trump speaks at the National FFA Organization convention in Indianapolis. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)
Oct. 27, 2018 | Trump arrives for a rally at Southern Illinois Airport in Murphysboro, Ill. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
Oct. 26, 2018 | Trump greets supporters after speaking during the 2018 Young Black Leadership Summit in the East Room of the White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Oct. 24, 2018 | Trump and the first lady arrive in the East Room of the White House to speak on the opioid crisis. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Oct. 15, 2018 | Trump and first lady Melania Trump tour damage from Hurricane Michael with Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), right, in Lynn Haven, Fla. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
Oct. 13, 2018 | American pastor Andrew Brunson kneels while praying with Trump in the Oval Office. Brunson returned to the United States after he was freed from nearly two years of detention in Turkey. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
Oct. 11, 2018 | Trump meets with rapper Kanye West in the Oval Office. (Calla Kessler/The Washington Post)
Oct. 10, 2018 | Trump signs the Know the Lowest Price Act and the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. (Calla Kessler/The Washington Post)
Oct. 9, 2018 | Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, shakes hands with Trump in the Oval Office after she announced she will step down at the end of the year. (Calla Kessler/The Washington Post)
Sept. 25, 2018 | Trump addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. (Richard Drew/AP)
Sept. 19, 2018 | Trump, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D), left, and volunteers hand out food for storm victims at Temple Baptist Church in New Bern, N.C. (Evan Vucci/AP)
Sept. 11, 2018 | The Trumps look at the site of a new memorial in Shanksville, Pa., where Flight 93 crashed during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)
Sept. 5, 2018 | Trump shakes hands with Sheikh Sabah Ahmed al-Sabah, emir of Kuwait, in the Oval Office. (Calla Kessler/The Washington Post)
Sept. 5, 2018 | Trump pauses to listen to a question from a reporter regarding the New York Times’ anonymous op-ed after a meeting with sheriffs from across the country in the East Room of the White House. (Calla Kessler/The Washington Post)
Aug 24, 2018 | Trump visits with children at a hospital in Columbus, Ohio. (Evan Vucci/AP)
Aug. 22, 2018 | Trump presents Valerie Nessel, widow of Air Force Technical Sgt. John Chapman, with the posthumous Medal of Honor for her husband during a ceremony at the White House. Chapman died in Afghanistan in March 2002 at the battle of Takur Ghar. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Aug. 21, 2018 | Trump speaks during a rally in Charleston, W.Va. (Alex Brandon/AP)
Aug. 20, 2018 | Trump greets Border Patrol agent Adrian Anzaldua during an event in the East Room of the White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Aug. 11, 2018 | Trump stands with members of Bikers for Trump and other supporters after saying the Pledge of Allegiance outside the clubhouse of Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
July 16, 2018 | Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands at the beginning of a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
July 13, 2018 | Trump and Queen Elizabeth II inspect the Guard of Honor at Windsor Castle in England. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
July 11, 2018 | Front, from left: Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Trump, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas attend the opening ceremony of the NATO summit. (Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
July 9, 2018 | Trump stands with Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh and his family during a ceremony to announce Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)
June 22, 2018 | Trump listens to victims’ families speak during an immigration event with “angel families” at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
June 19, 2018 | Trump and first lady Melania Trump welcome King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain at the White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
June 9, 2018 | German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, French President Emmanuel Macron, third from left, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center right, and other world leaders speak with Trump during the second day of the G-7 summit. (Jesco Denze/German government/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)
May 30, 2018 | Trump starts a race for children at the White House sports and fitness day event on the South Lawn. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
May 24, 2018 | Trump signs a pardon for Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight boxing champion, in the Oval Office. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
May 15, 2018 | Trump waves as he arrives with Chuck Canterbury, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, at the 37th annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service at the Capitol. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)
May 10, 2018 | Kim Dong-chul, Tony Kim and Kim Hak-song, Americans who had been detained in North Korea for more than a year, walk with Trump, first lady Melania Trump, Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
May 2, 2018 | Trump pats Mike Pompeo on the arm after he was sworn in as the new secretary of state as Pompeo’s son Nick, left, and wife, Susan, look on during a ceremony at the State Department. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)
May 1, 2018 | Trump thanks Capt. Tammie Jo Shults as he welcomes crew members and passengers of Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 that landed in Philadelphia after an engine exploded at 30,000 feet. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
April 23, 2018 | Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron, along with first lady Melania Trump and Brigitte Macron, plant a tree on the South Lawn of the White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
April 2, 2018 | Trump, with first lady Melania Trump and the Easter Bunny by his side, speaks during the 2018 White House Easter Egg Roll. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
March 14, 2018 | Trump talks to reporters during a tour of fighter aircraft at the Boeing factory in St. Louis. (Evan Vucci/AP)
March 13, 2018 | Trump speaks in front of a wall prototype as Rodney Scott, a Border Patrol sector chief, listens. (Evan Vucci/AP)
March 12, 2018 | The Houston Astros’ Josh Reddick presents Trump with a jersey during a ceremony honoring the World Series champions at the White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Feb. 21, 2018 | Samuel Zeif, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, left, weeps after recounting his story of the shooting incident at his high school as other students, teachers and Trump listens. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)
Feb. 16, 2018 | Trump accompanied by first lady Melania Trump and Igor Nichiporenko, waves to reporters while visiting with medical staff at Broward Health North in Pompano Beach, Fla., following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
Jan. 23, 2018 | Trump signs trade actions in the Oval Office. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Photo Gallery: A look at the president’s visits, speeches and meetings with dignitaries.

The announcement also upended a Saturday meeting of the top U.S., E.U. and Japanese trade negotiators, who were originally scheduled to convene to talk about how to take on what they say is China’s unfair support for its steel industry. Instead, officials say, the meeting may turn out to be the first salvo in an unfolding and escalating trade skirmish.

“We see this as an opportunity to have a frank discussion,” a European official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal meeting preparations. “There’s no avoiding the elephant in the room.”

E.U. officials have flagged countermeasures targeting $3.5 billion in trade with the United States, including bourbon, Harley-Davidson motorcycles and Levi’s jeans — all produced in politically sensitive areas for top U.S. politicians.

“We will defend our interests” if necessary, E.U. foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said at a conference in Brussels. “Protectionism is not a good idea for the U.S. economy.” 

One danger, though, is that the sides become locked in a cycle of escalation, dealing a blow to the free-trade system at the heart of the modern global economy. Trump has indicated that he would like to target European car manufacturers next.

Related: [Trump vows to strike back at European leaders who warned of retaliation for his tariffs ]

The frustration is compounded by Trump’s national security rationale. In fact, say U.S. allies, there is no national security risk to importing steel and aluminum from one’s closest military partners. And any move that damages their own industries also hits at overall NATO readiness and hurts trust among allies, they say.

Tariffs “might be attractive for the United States now, but in the long term it will have detrimental effects on America’s worldwide influence,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told the French CNews broadcaster.

Now allies will have to make those arguments to the White House to try to win exceptions.

Trump said Thursday he would be “very flexible” about imposing the tariffs.

“I’ll have a right to go up or down depending on the country, and I’ll have a right to drop out countries or add countries,” he said.

A number of U.S. allies say that if the tariffs ultimately hit their countries, they will file a complaint with the World Trade Organization. WTO rules allow countries to impose tariffs for reasons of national security but restrict supports for domestic industries.

But that response could backfire, some analysts say. If the WTO rules against the White House, and Trump chooses to ignore the ruling, that could effectively spell the end of the organization.

Still, Trump’s leaving open the door to exceptions kept alive the hope that the tariffs could still be sidelined. One European official in Washington said that as European diplomats made the rounds of congressional offices this week to argue that the tariffs would be needless and damaging, they found it hard to sway opinions — because everyone they met with was already on their side.

“To be honest, everyone kind of agrees with us,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss closed-door European efforts. “I haven’t found anyone who says, ‘No no, the president is right.’ ”

The prospect of tariffs also has launched a flurry of lobbying by South Korea, the third-largest exporter of steel to the United States. Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong is on his second trip to Washington in two weeks, meeting with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer, as well as key lawmakers such as Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah). That’s in addition to the campaign being waged in Washington by a special South Korean trade task force.

The prospect of steel tariffs follows on the heels of similar levies on solar panels and washing machines. But it comes at a sensitive time on the front of North Korean diplomacy.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has been going all-out to facilitate dialogue between North Korea and the United States, creating the prospect of a lull in tensions, if not the start of a thaw.

But the tariffs could have a “negative impact on South ­Korea-U.S. relations,” South Korea’s foreign ministry said this week.

Related: [Over four decades, Trump’s one solid stance: A hard line on trade ]

Japan, meanwhile, is trying to work behind the scenes to be added to the list of exempted nations.

“Japan is taking a quiet approach, trying not to let the trade issue take a toll on the overall alliance,” said Tsuneo Watanabe, a senior research fellow at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation.

“If Japan protests openly, it would just lead to a tit-for-tat with Trump, and Japan knows that’s something it shouldn’t do,” he said. 

Japanese officials, like their counterparts in Europe and elsewhere, have said their steel industry poses no national security threat to the United States.

“Exports of high-quality steel and aluminum from Japan, a U.S. ally, do not damage the U.S.’s national security in any way,” Hiroshige Seko, Japan’s trade minister, told reporters in Singapore this week. “Instead, they are contributing to the U.S. economy and creating jobs.”

Many in Japan worry that Trump’s effort may ultimately undermine global security, not bolster it.

“When trade friction grows between allies, the alliance is weakened,” Watanabe said. “But it’s unclear if Trump understands that.” 

Birnbaum reported from Brussels. Marina Lopes in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Quentin Ariès in Brussels contributed to this report.

            Read more         

Related:    Trump rolls out tariff policies like a reality show  

Related:    As Trump imposes tariffs, allies sign a free-trade pact without U.S.  

Related:             Today’s coverage from Post correspondents around the world            

Related:             Like Washington Post World on Facebook and stay updated on foreign news         


Anna Fifield is The Washington Post’s bureau chief in Beijing, covering greater China. She was the Post's bureau chief in Tokyo between 2014 and 2018, writing about Japan and the two Koreas. She previously reported for the Financial Times from Washington, D.C., Seoul, Sydney, London and from across the Middle East.

Michael Birnbaum is The Washington Post’s Brussels bureau chief. He previously served as the bureau chief in Moscow and in Berlin, and joined The Post in 2008 as an education reporter.

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