May 20, 2018

Trump delays tariffs decision on EU, Canada and Mexico

01 May 2018, 04:26 | Rufus Hill

Trump's Tariff Relief Comes Down to the Wire Ahead of May 1 Deadline

EU makes last-minute attempt to avert US trade war

Washington imposed a 25 per cent tariff on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum products on March 23, saying the imports threatened national security.

In Malmstrom's latest telephone conversation with Ross, Malmstom rejected Ross' demand for a voluntarily limit of European Union steel and aluminum exports to the United States of 90 percent of the average 2016-17 level.

So far, South Korea is the only nation to be spared from the duties after reaching a deal to revise its bilateral free trade agreement with the USA, which was already under way.

European Trade Commissioner Malmstrom was due to talk by phone with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Monday in a last effort to persuade Washington to do so.

If the European Union is subject to tariffs on the 6.4 billion euros ($7.7 billion) of the metals it exports to the United States, it has said it will set its own duties on 2.8 billion euros of US exports of products from make-up to motorbikes.

The steel and aluminum tariffs are fueling tensions with some of America's strongest allies, just as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin leads a delegation this week to China for talks on what the USA sees as Beijing's unfair trading practices. The U.S. imposed the tariffs after concluding foreign shipments imperil its security.

Trump administration officials have said that in lieu of tariffs, steel and aluminum exporting countries would have to agree to quotas created to achieve similar protections for USA producers.

The EU tariffs would hit US consumer, agricultural and steel products in many key Republican constituencies, putting pressure on Trump ahead of crucial midterm elections in November.

European leaders have resisted the idea of a quota.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke by telephone Sunday, agreeing that reciprocal tariffs will be imposed on US goods headed to Europe.

It said it would launch a series of countermeasures if that failed. She has insisted on a permanent exemption without conditions. Trump has asked China to cut the gap by $100 billion and open up the Asian nation's markets to American products such as cars.

This afternoon, US Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said the president had not yet decided whether any countries should gain extended exemptions on the metal tariffs.

In addition to Mnuchin, Lighthizer, Ross and Navarro, the group will include economic adviser Larry Kudlow, U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad and Everett Eissenstat, deputy assistant to the president for International Economic Affairs. "The president has not made any decision yet", Mnuchin said in an interview on Fox Business Network.

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