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U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday signed an order imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

A senior official at China's Ministry of Commerce Wang Hejun said China has urged United States to respect the multilateral trade system and revoke the policy as soon as possible.

Hiroshige Seko, Japan's trade and industry minister, said at a news conference, "We don't think imports from Japan, an ally, have any effect at all on USA national security". But Wang said in a press briefing on the sidelines of the annual National People's Congress session that "China will certainly make an appropriate and necessary response" if the tariffs are put in place. Traders also were encouraged by news Trump might meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The U.S., originally the biggest TPP economy, was one of the trade deal's strongest supporters before Trump took office.

Last year, China exported goods worth $2.80 to the United States for every $1 of American goods it bought, according to Chinese data. A South Korean special envoy arrived in Washington on Thursday bringing a message to the Trump Administration from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and, on Tuesday, North Korea offered to put denuclearisation on the table if talks are held with the USA and its security was guaranteed.

Trade tensions between China and USA have risen since Trump took office.

China delivered another bumper trade report in February, logging a far larger trade surplus than markets had been expecting.

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Earlier, the White House said that Mexico, Canada and other nations might be spared from Trump's planned steel and aluminum tariffs under national security "carve-outs", a move that could soften the blow amid threats of retaliation by trading partners, and dire economic warnings from lawmakers and business groups.

His plans to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum shipments will be felt mostly by US allies such as Canada, South Korea and Germany.

The data does not bode well for opponents of President Trump's expected actions to slap hefty tariffs on foreign-made metals from anywhere - except maybe Canada and Mexico - and to impose additional tariffs targeting Chinese IP-intensive products.

Trump is also demanding a rewrite of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada in an attempt to reduce the US trade deficit with Mexico and to shift more auto production north of the border.

According to China's General Administration of Customs, a trade surplus of $33.74 billion was recorded during the month, breezing past expectations for a far smaller surplus of $600 million. The world's top steel-buying nation, the United States imported a total 35.6 million tonnes previous year.

Adding to the political stakes in China, Trump's announcement came ahead of next week's meeting of its ceremonial legislature, the year's most prominent political event.

The government of China sees the United States as its greatest obstacle to achieve its expansionist aim of annexing Taiwan, believing that if America's global influence can be sufficiently diminished, Taiwan will have no choice other than to bow to the control of the Communist Party in Beijing.

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