Steel tariffs: Canada exempt for now

Donald Trump holds up a proclamation on steel imports

Donald Trump holds up a proclamation on steel imports

President Donald Trump signed executive orders last spring that called on the Department of Commerce to investigate whether imports of steel and aluminum were compromising US national security, the soybean group said.

"We have a very close relationship with Australia", Mr Trump said ahead of the formal announcement of his tariffs plan. "SSAB's Nordic exports into the U.S. are traded fairly, following established global rules of trade, and are managed and sold by American workers to companies in the U.S. We therefore will be engaging with U.S. government officials to advocate for the preservation of this important trade relationship".

"We are not looking to get into trade wars". US trade chief Robert Lighthizer will be in charge of working out deals with other partners.

China's Commerce Ministry said it "firmly opposes" the United States president's move but gave no indication whether Beijing might make good on threats to retaliate.

The president stood with workers in the manufacturing industry before signing the order.

Australian has been lobbying hard for an exemption based on national security grounds, and Mr Trump said "great partners and military allies" may sidestep the tariffs.

Mr Fox says he will travel to Washington next week when he will discuss the new duties. McCain said America should confront China's "unfair" trade practices, including its attempts to circumvent existing anti-dumping tariffs and its pilfering of American invention and innovation through coercion and outright theft.

He mentioned both Canada and Mexico - US partners in the Nafta trade pact - and Australia, as a valuable ally that would be considered for exemptions.

The concession to Canada and Mexico is seen as a bargaining chip as the two countries engage in talks with the U.S. to reform the Clinton-era trade deal, the North American Free Trade Agreement.

European Union trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom vowed to press for an EU exemption from U.S. tariffs on foreign steel and aluminium when she meets her American counterpart in Brussels on Saturday.

The former Goldman Sachs executive lost out to White House aide and resident nationalist Peter Navarro and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross who have petitioned for an aggressive protectionist trade policy. John McCain, expressed concern that Trump's sharp tariffs will actually hurt the USA economy.

With steel and aluminum tariffs, Chesbrough said "costs will increase throughout the supply chain, driven by higher raw material prices". It also provoked a possible tariff hit list for retaliation from the EU.

The process of announcing the penalties has been the subject of an intense debate and chaotic exchanges within the White House, pitting hard-liners against free trade advocates such as outgoing economic adviser Gary Cohn.

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