The president announced last week that the United States would impose heavy tariffs on imported steel and aluminium, with some countries potentially exempted.
However Mr Trump appears to be using the tariffs to leverage concessions from other countries, pressuring for example Canada and Mexico to rewrite the North America Free Trade Agreement. The EU trading bloc is seeking exemption from the tariffs.
It appeared Malcolm Turnbull's "100 years of Mateship" visit to the United States last month paid dividends when Australia was granted a tariff exemption on Saturday morning, joining in the winners circle Mexico and Canada (with whom Trump is re-negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement). If they drop their horrific barriers & tariffs on USA products going in, we will likewise drop ours. "We just want fairness", Mr. Trump said.
In October 2017, Mexico extended, for the fourth time, a 15% tariff imposed on imports of slab, hot-rolled coil, heavy plate, cold-rolled coil and wire rod to protect the domestic steel sector.
With the world on the brink of the fiercest trade war in recent years, the tasks before South Korea are evident. Trump's chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, is resigning, reportedly because of his oppositions to the tariffs. "The U.S. industry is a large net exporter and thus vulnerable to potential retaliatory trade actions", he wrote to clients.
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But rival parties have threatened to bolt the coalition over the issue, raising the possibility of early elections. But progress has been made on a compromise that could lessen the chances of elections for the time being.
At a campaign rally Saturday, Trump threatened to "tax" German cars if the European Union does not lower its barriers to United States goods.
"The problem is when you say, "All right, let's have tariffs, but let's couple that with uncertainty" - that's nearly worse", Senator Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican pushing legislation to block the tariffs, said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press". It was still hoping for a clearer indication about the exemption process.
Earlier Monday, a spokesman for the European Commission said it expects to be in contact with the U.S. Companies that export their metal products to Mexico and Canada were particularly fearful of tariff retaliation by those countries if they are not exempted. The Commission spokesman also pointed to US import duties of up to 48 percent on shoes, 12 percent on textiles and 164 percent on peanuts.
"As long-standing security partners of the USA, (the European Union and Japan) underlined to ambassador Lighthizer their expectation that European Union and Japanese exports to the U.S. would be exempted from the application of higher tariffs", an European Union statement said after the talks. "Increased costs will make our industry less competitive and harm American workers, consumers, and our economy". "It has a negative impact on the NAFTA talks". "We have a different relationship on matters of national security than the USA has with China".