Now that President Biden has effectively ended Trump's trade war with Europe, the administration is turning their attention to the far east where Trump also imposed tariffs on goods from several countries including Japan.
American and European officials agreed to end Trump's trade war by accepting a quota system that will only apply tariffs to excess goods above a certain threshold and the same approach could be used to end Trump's tariffs on Japanese metal.
In fact, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo literally said they'll take the "same approach."
The U.K. and Japan “are important allies to us, and we do want to see if we can work through the trade issues,” Raimondo said in an interview in Chicago on Monday. “I’ll take the same approach into those negotiations as we had with the EU, which is yes, we want to work with our allies and remove trade irritants; however, we have to protect the steel and aluminum industry in America and the workers in those industries.”
The Trump administration imposed a 25% steel tariff, along with a 10% duty on aluminum imports, in March 2018 on a range of nations, using the section 232 national-security provision in a 1962 trade law.
Imposing tariffs on European goods in the name of "national security" never made sense because they're our allies, but that is even more true of our relationship with Japan.
Trump centered the vast majority of his foreign policy around the idea that China is public enemy number one and he imposed tariffs on China as a result of that, but imposing tariffs on Japanese goods is counterintuitive. Japan is arguably our most important defense partner in the world and that is certainly true of any policy aimed at countering China which is within spitting distance of Japan. And yet, Trump imposed tariffs on Japan in a signal that they're a threat to our national security.
The Biden administration is not that stupid, but almost no one is.
It's anyone's guess how long it will take to reach an agreement on ending Trump's tariffs on Japan, but the trade war with Europe ended much quicker than I expected it to once the ball was rolling. It's as if no one wanted it in the first place.