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Japanese lawmaker says US Steel deal would help counter China dominance

Nippon Steel Corp’s acquisition of United States Steel Corp would strengthen economic security ties between the US and Japan and help counter China’s dominance in steelmaking, according to a senior Japanese ruling party lawmaker.

The US$14.1 billion deal would clearly be a win-win for both companies and both economies, said Akira Amari, a former economics minister known for his industrial policy expertise. He was speaking two weeks after US President Joe Biden came out against the merger.

“This deal would be a symbol of Japan-US cooperation as allies because we would be able to confront China’s rising technological capability,” Amari said in an interview in Tokyo on Friday. “This would be better for our economic security.”

Nippon Steel has vowed to press ahead with plans for the acquisition, even as it gets caught in the political crossfire of the US presidential election.

The problem complicates the run-up to a planned April 10 summit between Biden and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Washington meant to demonstrate the strength of the alliance.

The influential United Steelworkers union, members of Congress from both parties as well as former president Donald Trump have all spoken against the merger.

Nippon Steel would provide technology, investment and job security to the beleaguered US company, Amari said.

That should enable it to expand market share in high-end products like advanced steel sheets for automobiles and press ahead with lower carbon technology like electric furnaces.

Without the merger, the US and Japan could lose out to China, which tries to dominate the global market by dumping, driving out competitors with excessive volume and low prices, Amari added.

Biden said in March the iconic US company should stay under