March 23, 2018 / 12:22 AM / 8 months ago

Japan Finance Minister Aso says will closely watch U.S. tariff moves on China

Japan's Finance Minister Taro Aso answers a question during an upper house parliamentary session in Tokyo, Japan March 19, 2018. REUTERS/Issei Kato

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said on Friday that he would closely watch the United States’ move to impose tariffs on up to $60 billion of Chinese goods.

Aso made the comment just hours after U.S. President Donald Trump signed a presidential memorandum that will target Chinese imports, though only after a 30-day consultation period.

China will have space to respond, reducing the risk of immediate retaliation from Beijing.

The threatened tariffs and possible investment restrictions on China stem from the U.S. Trade Representative’s investigation of alleged misappropriation of U.S. intellectual property by Chinese companies.

“Japan, as well as the United States, understands the importance of strengthening and effectively enforcing protection of intellectual property,” Aso told reporters after a cabinet meeting, adding that he needed to examine the U.S. memorandum in detail.

Aso made no comment on market reaction to the U.S. announcement.

They yen hit a 16-month high against the dollar on Friday as traders sought safety in the Japanese currency after concerns over global trade tensions triggered a selloff on Wall Street.

The dollar fell to as low as 104.635 yen, its lowest since November 2016, in early Asian trade as the safe haven Japanese currency pushed higher. The dollar last stood at 104.88 yen.

Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim and Eric Meijer

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