Trump grants tariff exemptions for Mexico and Canada

European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström | Aris Oikonomou  AFP via Getty Images

European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström | Aris Oikonomou AFP via Getty Images

"We have to protect and build our steel and aluminum industries, while at the same time showing great flexibility and cooperation towards those that are really friends of ours, both on a trade basis and a military basis", he mentioned.

Australia has been frantically lobbying for exemptions over the past few days, after the President suggested earlier that no one would be immune.

"We express regret over the USA government's decision to impose tariffs on imported steel even though the Korean government has pointed out the problems of this action through various channels".

The president said a 25% tax will apply to steel imports, and 10% will be added to aluminium brought into the US. Trump however, did back track a step on his initial statement of tariffs for "all countries" with Canada and Mexico gaining an indefinite exemption "to see if we can make the deal". "We have a very close relationship with Australia, we have a trade surplus with Australia", he said.

He described Australia as "a great country, a long-term partner" and said "we will be doing something with them". US stocks pared gains on Thursday after the administration official's comments. More than 100 Republicans penned a letter to the president urging him to reconsider, for the sake of American businesses and consumers.

"We're going to be very fair, we're going to be very flexible but we're going to protect the American worker as I said I would do in my campaign", Mr Trump said.

The deal had been in doubt after the USA withdrew, but was resuscitated in January following lobbying from Japan and Australia.

McMaster University business professor Marvin Ryder says Trump "is as unpredictable as the weather".

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The Multnomah County District Attorney's Office didn't press criminal charges due to a lack of evidence, the Willamette Week reported.

"We are all over it", Ms Bishop told AM.

"I don't know if any of us are safe frankly as long as he is president of the United States".

Shortly after Trump authorized the tariffs, Sen. The president said he would exempt Canada and Mexico while negotiating for changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement.

In his own remarks, however, Trump focused on the economic impact of the action, drawing on his campaign-era rhetoric about tariffs to decry existing US trade deals. But if no deal is reached in negotiations among the three countries that began in August, "then we're going to terminate NAFTA and we'll start all over again or we'll just do it a different way", Trump added.

The industry is concerned that the administration wants "to ignite a trade war" that will create a swath of companies on the losing end of his policy.

The Treasury secretary said he has been speaking with his foreign counterparts and "my expectation is there may be some other countries that he considers in the next two weeks".

China had a record $375.2 billion goods surplus with the United States previous year.

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