Published: Sun, March 11, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

European Union expects exemption from USA steel and aluminium tariffs

European Union expects exemption from USA steel and aluminium tariffs

The White House will follow through on its plan to levy tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum, President Donald Trump said during a cabinet meeting today - but it will grant temporary exemptions for imports from Canada and Mexico.

America's friends deserve "flexibility and co-operation" when the measures are imposed, Trump said Thursday at the signing ceremony. That would leave the country without a domestic source of steel needed for essential military projects, say officials, as well as essential infrastructure such as dams and the electricity grid.

Steel and aluminum make up 5.5 percent of Maryland's imports and, by that measure, the state is ranked fourth in the nation for its use of those products, according to a study from the Brookings Institution this week.

The British steel industry could be badly hit by the tariffs, with trade body UK Steel saying the tariffs could have a "profound and detrimental impact".

Unswayed by Republican warnings of a trade war, Trump said he would exempt Canada and Mexico while negotiating for changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement.

"The US pursues trade protectionism", said the China Iron & Steel Association, an industry group, in a statement.

US President Donald Trump announced new tariffs on imports of foreign steel and aluminum.

The EU exported about 5.5 million tons of steel to the USA previous year.

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. "We will be doing something with them".

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"I am disappointed in this announcement and will be working with the businesses that may be potentially impacted by this decision along with the administration about how best to continue our joint efforts to create jobs and spur new growth", Gardner said.

China's Commerce Ministry said it "firmly opposes" Trump's move which will lead to "a serious attack on normal worldwide trade order".

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the US wants to negotiate exemptions for steel and aluminum tariffs before they take effect in two weeks as pressure grows from allies who are threatening retaliation if the duties are applied to them.

Trump said the tariff hikes ordered Thursday were needed to protect United States national security by ensuring the survival of the country's metals producers.

Washington chose to impose tariffs of 25 and 10 percent on steel and aluminum imports, respectively.

The EU's top trade official Cecilia Malmstroem insisted the entire bloc "should be excluded" from the tariffs as a "close ally", vowing to "seek more clarity" from Washington.

A separate statement by the China Iron and Steel Association said the move not only damaged the iron and steel industry across the world, but damaged the interests of consumers, especially American consumers. Canada and Mexico were given exemptions while the renegotiation of a more US-friendly NAFTA deal is underway.

European Commissioner Malmstrom, who coordinates policy for the 28-nation EU, the world's biggest trading bloc, said she stood ready to go to the WTO, the global trade arbiter, to impose the bloc's own safeguards within 90 days.

A meeting with business executives who would be harmed by the tariffs was in the works for Thursday and then canceled.

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