Japan has decided to impose its first-ever retaliatory sanctions against the United States on 15 goods, including steel, in response to a controversial US anti-dumping law.

Japan will slap 15% retaliatory levies on US steel, Trade Ministry official Etsuo Sato said.

The percentage is in line with moves by Canada and the European Union, which have taken retaliatory actions against US products since 1 May over US legislation known as the Byrd Amendment, an anti-dumping law ruled illegal by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Tokyo made the decision after the Council on Customs, Tariff, Foreign Exchange and Other Transactions gave its approval on Monday.

The tariffs will amount to 5.7 billion yen ($51 million), said Sato.

The tariffs are the latest retaliation for the Byrd legislation, which redistributes levies on dumping – selling items abroad at less than the price in the domestic market – to US companies. Japan and other countries including the European Union took the case to the WTO, which last year authorized sanctions amounting to 72% of the sums reaped by the US law.

The Nihon Keizai Shimbun said last week that the tariffs would remain in place until Washington repealed its 2000 US law, which is named after US Senator Robert Byrd.

Are we supposed to congratulate Senator Robert Byrd?
First steel, then what?
For that matter, what about Japanese protection of rice and the EU protection of sugar and other crops? What about US protection on oranges, sugar, sheep, etc. What about price crop supports on tobacco of all things?

Here is the universal definition of “Free Trade”:
Free Trade is that which levies duties on the competition but demands that no other country do the same on a county’s exports. In case of a tie, the vote goes in favor of the most powerful lobby.

There really is a huge lack of “free trade” and no one really wants it anyway (except for consumers who want lower prices). Then again consumers wants lower prices and jobs at the same time. Sorry folks, It’s not going to happen. In the meantime, let’s see how carried away everyone gets with protectionism.

Mike Shedlock / Mish/