Trump Signs Off on Steel and Aluminum Tariffs, Exempts Canada and Mexico

Trump Signs Off on Steel and Aluminum Tariffs, Exempts Canada and Mexico

The administration has argued that America's reliance on foreign aluminum and steel has caused atrophy among domestic manufacturers, which they say could leave us unable to meet our national security needs in the event of a war.

The EU is also threatening to hit back-slapping tariffs on American imports such as jeans, bourbon whisky, Harley Davidson motorcycles and peanut butter.

They will apply to all countries except Canada and Mexico, which will be exempt while discussions over the North America Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) take place.

Trump said his top trade negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, will be in charge of working out deals with other countries on possible exemptions. He added that NAFTA was an important part of the US-Canada-Mexico security relationship.

After Trump announced his tariffs last week ministers were unable to say if Australia would secure exemptions from the tariffs as it did under the previous steel import duties imposed by the Bush administration in 2002.

But in separate development and a rebuke to protectionism, 11 countries including Australia, Japan and Canada signed a landmark Asia-Pacific trade agreement without the United States.

President Trump is simply doing what he said he would do during the presidential campaign - protecting American workers and safeguarding our national security, all at the same time.

"There are potential carve outs for Canada and Mexico based on national security and possibly other countries as well".

Canada on Thursday hailed the news it would not immediately be subject to USA tariffs on steel and aluminum while promising to continue lobbying Washington until the threat of duties had disappeared.

"If we reach a deal it is most likely that we won't be charging those two countries the tariffs", he said, adding that Australia would also be spared.

But there was political criticism aplenty, especially from Trump's own Republican Party.

Leading Republican Paul Ryan is among those who have denounced the move.

While some Democratic lawmakers, including Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., calling the process "chaotic and confusing". Their outreach to senior administration officials seeking definitive answers was returned with shrugs or unanswered calls.

The president himself has struck a less measured tone on Twitter and in person. In fact, as recently as 1 p.m., trade staffers in key congressional offices still had not been briefed on the White House tariff plan.

The meeting was not on the president's daily schedule, released to the public Wednesday night.

"A tariff is a tax, plain and simple".

Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, an advocacy group backed by the billionaire GOP donor Koch brothers, warned in an interview that the tariffs could harm Republican prospects in the November midterms when Democrats hope to retake control of Congress.

"In recent days, we have worked energetically with our American counterparts to secure an exemption for Canada from these tariffs", Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters on Thursday, acknowledging the efforts of premiers, business leaders, labour leaders and parliamentarians from multiple parties. "It could definitely impact the midterms".

The EU's trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said the bloc should be excluded from the measures and she would meet United States trade representative Robert Lighthizer to discuss the situation on Saturday.

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