Washington: President Donald Trump today suspended his controversial tariffs on steel and aluminium imports for the US’ key trade partners, including the European Union.
The countries temporarily exempted from the Trump administration’s new 25 per cent import tariff on steel and 10 per cent on aluminium are the EU members states, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and South Korea, the White House said.
“These suspensions are based on factors including ongoing discussions regarding measures to reduce global excess capacity in steel and aluminium production by addressing its root causes, the White House said in a late night statement.
In a proclamation, Trump said the tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from the six countries and European Union are suspended until May 1, 2018, pending discussions of satisfactory long-term alternative means to address the threatened impairment to US national security.
By May 1, the President will decide whether to continue to exempt these countries from the tariffs, based on the status of the discussions.
The European Union will negotiate on behalf of its member countries, the White House said.
Earlier this month, Trump imposed heavy tariffs on imported steel and aluminium which he said were necessary to boost the US industry suffering from “unfair” business practices, drawing condemnation from allies and sparking fears of a trade war.
Several countries, including the EU, warned the US that they would retaliate if they are faced with tariffs on metals products.
The Trump administration has stressed that the trade penalties were primary aimed at China for flooding the world with cheap steel and aluminium.
Noting that Trump retains broad authority to further modify the tariffs, including by removing the suspensions or suspending additional countries, the White House said any country not currently suspended remains welcome to discuss a possible suspension with the US based on a shared commitment to addressing global excess steel and aluminium capacity and production.
The administration will closely monitor imports of steel and aluminium imports from exempted countries, and the United States Trade Representative, in consultation with the Secretary of Commerce and the Director of the National Economic Council, may advise the President to impose quotas as appropriate.
In his proclamation, Trump said the steel and aluminium tariff announced by him earlier remains an important first step in ensuring the economic viability of US domestic steel industry and removing the threatened impairment of the national security.
Without this tariff and the adoption of satisfactory alternative means addressing long-term solutions in ongoing discussions with the exempted countries, the industry will continue to decline, leaving the US at risk of becoming reliant on foreign producers of steel to meet its national security needs — a situation that is fundamentally inconsistent with the safety and security of the American people.
Trump said each of these exempted countries has an important security relationship with the US.
He said, “The necessary and appropriate means to address the threat to the national security posed by imports from steel articles from these countries is to continue these discussions and to exempt steel articles imports from these countries from the tariff, at least at this time.”
“Any country not listed in this proclamation with which we have a security relationship remains welcome to discuss with the United States alternative ways to address the threatened impairment of the national security caused by imports of steel articles from that country, Trump said.