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Russia, Japan threaten to levy sanctions on US exports

The photo shows a general view of World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters in Geneva on April 12, 2018. (AFP photo)

Russia and Japan have threatened to impose heavy bans worth almost $1 billion combined on US exports in retaliation for Washington’s hefty duties on its metal imports.

The US plan will add duties of $538 million to Russia’s annual exports and $440 million to those of Japan.

According to filings published by the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Tuesday, Russia and Japan said they reserve the right to defend their interests by imposing equal costs on US exports, without naming the US products that they might target.

The filings by Russia and Japan came a week after China and the EU adopted similar measures at the WTO.

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, has prepared a list of American products, including peanut butter, motorcycles and denim jeans, which could get extra import duties.

China shot back at the US with a list of $50 billion in targeted US goods after US President Donald Trump threatened to levy new tariffs on $150 billion of Chinese imports. The two sides, however, agreed on Sunday to end their trade war and stop imposing tariffs on each other following several rounds of high-level talks and tit-for-tat measures.

On March 8, the US president caused fear when he decided to impose a 25-percent tariff on steel imports and a 10-percent tariff on aluminum imports, primarily to target China, but also allies, including EU countries as well as Japan.

Trump argued at the time that enormous flows of imports to the US were putting in jeopardy the American national security, making an odd departure from a decades-long US-led move towards open and free trade.

In an attempt to prevent a possible trade war, the WTO’s director-general, Roberto Azevedo, called on Trump not to impose hefty tariffs on aluminum and steel exports, saying it could spark a deep global recession.

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