Trump extends exemptions on steel, aluminum tariffs

A worker walks in the new furnace at the Thyssen Krupp steel factory in Duisburg Germany

Those initial exemptions were set to expire Tuesday.

The commission, the EU's executive arm that coordinates trade policy for the 28-nation bloc, has already prepared a three-fold retaliatory strategy if the exemption isn't made permanent.

South Korea accepted a quota of 70 per cent of the average of its steel exports to the United States between 2015 and 2017, which can come in tariff-free.

The U.S. Treasury Secretary will be joined on the high-stakes trip by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro and White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow.

The EU had threatened to retaliate if the steel and aluminum tariffs took effect, by imposing levies of its own on politically sensitive American exports. The U.S. refused to offer the European Union compensation and said the request for consultations had no basis under WTO rules. That deal, the outlines of which were previously announced, requires South Korea to limit exports to the U.S.in exchange for an exemption from tariffs.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday that any move by the United States to impose tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum would be a "very bad idea" guaranteed to disrupt trade between the two countries. The administration has also imposed tariffs on imported solar panels and washing machines.

The three European leaders "agreed that the US ought not to take any trade measures against the European Union", which is "resolved to defend its interests within the multilateral trade framework".

President Trump delayed steep steel and aluminum tariffs for US allies on Monday, putting off a showdown that European leaders warned could escalate into a trade war.

Macron and Merkel visited Washington separately last week, appealing directly to Trump for exemptions for the European Union bloc, but failed to win any public guarantees.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks during a news conference at the G20 Meeting of Finance Ministers in Buenos Aires, Argentina, March 20, 2018. He also granted a permanent exemption to South Korea.

Mnuchin noted in the interview that he is not concerned about China's retaliatory measures in response to U.S. tariffs.

The steel and aluminum tariffs are fueling tensions with some of America's strongest allies, just as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin leads a delegation this week to China for talks on what the USA sees as Beijing's unfair trading practices.

Most analysts, however, think it's unlikely the talks will reach permanent agreements and will more likely mark the start of longer-term negotiations.

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