Despite its pessimism about escaping the tariffs, the Australian government has persisted with lobbying efforts given the uncertain environment surrounding Mr Trump's leadership style and the mixed messages that have emanated from the administration.
"He is committed to having a very fair and reciprocal military and trade relationship", Trump said on Twitter, referring to Turnbull.
In a series of tweets exchanged between the pair on Saturday morning, Trump and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Australia would be exempt from new steel and aluminum tariffs the U.S. is imposing on most exporters.
President Trump said Canada and Mexico would be exempt from a 25 per cent tariff on imported steel and a 10 per cent tariff on aluminium, and indicated a path for what he called "great partners and military allies" to sidestep the imposts.
He said that Canada and Mexico are exempt while negotiations are underway for the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and other countries the USA has a security relationship with (such as Australia) would have the next 15 days to negotiate with the United States to modify or remove the tariffs.
He disagreed with Mr Trump's belief that trade wars are good. "We will be doing something with them".
"The President was able to confirm that he would not impose tariffs on Australian steel and aluminium and, of course, now the legal paperwork - the proclamation process under the executive order - will take its course to put that direction into effect". In the immediate aftermath, Australian Trade Minister Steve Ciobo told local media that he was "seeking urgent clarification" from us officials to see if Australia would be exempt.
"We can take some comfort in the criteria for exclusion being a defence ally without a trade surplus with the U.S., a criteria which Australia clearly meets", Mr Willox said on Friday.
Announcing the details of his tariffs in Washington yesterday, Mr Trump singled out Australia when he said he may exempt countries with which the USA has good trade and military relationships.
Any exemptions would ultimately be a decision for Trump, Ciobo said.
In response, the Prime Minister also tweeted about the conversation, writing: "Great discussion today on security and trade".
Former prime minister Kevin Rudd said on Saturday that even if Australia secured an exemption, a global tit-for-tat was a concern, disagreeing with Mr Trump's belief that trade wars are good.
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