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Japan steelmakers deny pay hikes as trade war saps demand

Asia Nikkei - Japan's top steelmakers will not raise base pay for the first time in seven years as the protracted trade war between the U.S. and China squeezes global demand.

Nippon Steel, JFE Steel and Kobe Steel will inform unions of their decisions Wednesday. The decision by the steel groups, which also will not offer raises in fiscal 2021, could impact wage negotiations in other industries as well.

The unions, which together have about 50,000 members, were pushing for a 3,000 yen ($29.50) hike in monthly pay for fiscal 2020 and another 3,000 yen for fiscal 2021 in their negotiations with the companies.

But the steel industry is facing sluggish demand from automakers and other manufacturers as the global economy slows, while China, the world's top producer, boosts output to lift an economy battered by the trade war. Prices of iron ore, the primary raw material, also remain high.

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