US Gives A Handful Of Countries A Temporary Pass On Hard-Hitting Steel And Aluminum Tariffs

Ryan Pickrell | China/Asia Pacific Reporter

President Donald Trump has reportedly decided to exempt the European Union and a handful of other countries from the hard-hitting steel and aluminum tariffs expected to go into effect Friday, according to the U.S. trade representative.

The president announced plans to place a 25 percent tariff on foreign-made steel and 10 percent on aluminum to protect American “national economic and security” earlier in March. The move sparked criticisms from allies and international partners, as well as analysts concerned about a trade war.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer revealed Thursday that the EU, along with Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and South Korea will be offered exemptions from the tariffs.

“The idea that the president has is that, based on a certain set of criteria, that some countries should get out,” Lighthizer told a Senate panel Thursday. “There are countries with whom we’re negotiating and the question becomes the obvious one that you think, as a matter of business, how does this work? So what he has decided to do is to pause the imposition of the tariffs with respect to those countries.”

The exemptions will give some of America’s largest steel suppliers a reprieve and perhaps signal that the tariffs are primarily aimed at China, which the U.S. plans to hit with around $60 billion in punitive trade penalties in response to Chinese theft of American intellectual property and forced technology transfer, as well as unfair trade practices.

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