Published: Tue, May 01, 2018
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

White House delays decision on steel and aluminum tariffs

White House delays decision on steel and aluminum tariffs

President Donald Trump has pushed back a deadline to decide whether the USA will exempt the European Union and other allies from steel and aluminum tariffs, an administration official told FOX Business on Monday.

The US also announced it had finalized a trade deal with South Korea, which includes several concessions made by Seoul, including extended tariffs on pick-up trucks and a quota on its steel exports.

President Donald Trump is facing a self-imposed midnight deadline to decide whether to permanently exempt the European Union and five separate countries from tariffs that his administration has imposed on imported steel and aluminum.

Negotiations with Canada, Mexico and the European Union face a new 30-day deadline, while Australia, Argentina and Brazil have reached preliminary agreements on tariff exemptions. "In all of these negotiations, the administration is focused on quotas that will restrain imports, prevent transshipment, and protect the national security", the White House added.

Trump has invoked a 1962 trade law to erect protections for US steel and aluminum producers on national security grounds, amid a worldwide glut of both metals that is largely blamed on excess production in China.

The U.S. imported 34.6 million metric tons of steel past year, a 15 percent increase from 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Shares in Bluescope Steel Ltd, Australia's only steel producer, rose on reports of the agreement, trading 0.6 percent higher by 0320 GMT after opening lower. The US is seeking quotas, or a set limit on the amount of imports, in exchange for a permanent exemption.

In formal proclamations, Trump said the "necessary and appropriate means to address the threat to the national security" posed by the metal imports is to "continue these discussions and to extend the temporary exemption of these countries".

Todd Leebow, president of Majestic Steel USA, a Cleveland-based distributor of domestic steel products, said American steelmakers needed certainty that import protections won't be eroded.

Trump in March chose to slap tariffs of 25 per cent on imported steel and 10 per cent on imported aluminium.

A half-dozen allies were eventually granted a temporary exemption: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, the European Union, Canada, and Mexico.

Extensions for Canada and Mexico had been expected, as Mexico City, Ottawa and Washington work on revamping the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The tariffs are already in effect for other countries, including China and Russian Federation.

Trump officials initially said there would be no exemptions, sparking an outcry from Europe and also some Republicans on Capitol Hill concerned that the retaliatory measures would hurt home state industries.

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