The White House on Monday announced it would extend a temporary exemption from additional tariffs on steel and aluminum for Canada, Mexico and the EU, but Taiwan received no such exemption.
The White House granted Canada, Mexico and the EU a 30-day extension to a temporary exemption from the tariffs for further negotiations. The exemption previously granted to the three economies expired on Monday after a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum were imposed in early March.
It also reached agreements-in-principle with Argentina, Australia and Brazil to remove the levies, which were introduced on national security grounds.
The Ministry of Finance last month announced it had launched anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations into select steel products sold by Chinese firms.
In addition to protecting local steel manufacturers the ministry said the probes were intended to provide the nation with a bargaining chip in talks with the US, as it sought an exemption from the tariffs.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump drew short shrift from key economic allies for extending the exemption rather than granting permanent waivers.
“The US decision prolongs market uncertainty, which is already affecting business decisions,” the European Commission said in a statement. “The EU should be fully and permanently exempted from these measures, as they cannot be justified on the grounds of national security.”
Trump’s decision to delay the tariffs gives the White House breathing room as it weighs leaving the Iran nuclear accord later this month, prepares for disarmament talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and as US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin leads a contingent of Cabinet members to China this week to try to head off a brewing trade dispute.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has been sent to negotiate with nations seeking permanent waivers from the metals levies.
Trump dangled a permanent exemption as an incentive to reach a tentative North American Free Trade Agreement deal with Canada and Mexico, although talks continue with no immediate agreement in sight.
The EU and US should “develop a positive trade agenda in the interests of both sides,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief spokesman Steffen Seibert said yesterday on Twitter. “Fundamentally, the German government’s expectation remains a permanent exemption.”
The Trump administration has been pushing nations to accept quotas on the amount of steel and aluminum they export to the US.
The White House in March spared South Korea from the duties after Seoul accepted a quota of 70 percent of the average of its steel exports to the US between 2015 and last year. The US confirmed that South Korea was granted a permanent exemption on Monday in a presidential proclamation.
The British government yesterday called the exemption extension “positive,” but added: “We remain concerned about the impact of these tariffs on global trade and will continue to work with the EU on a multilateral solution to the global problem of overcapacity, as well as to manage the impact on domestic markets.”