White House delays tariffs for EU, Mexico, Canada

Just ahead of a May 1 deadline, the Trump administration has deferred the imposition of stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum on European Union (EU) member states, Mexico and Canada.

Citing a national security law, the White House announced the tariffs in March, the basis of which a dwindling U.S. metals industry harms American security and economic potential.

Under President Trump’s tariff plan, U.S. trading partners are being urged to accept quotas on the amount of steel they export to the U.S. or face tariffs.

The White House decision pushes back the tariff cutoff date to June 1.

According to a White House statement, President Trump decided to allow a temporary exemption in order to allow the negotiation of new trade agreements.

”In all of these negotiations, the administration is focused on quotas that will restrain imports, prevent transshipment, and protect the national security.  These agreements underscore the Trump administration’s successful strategy to reach fair outcomes with allies to protect our national security and address global challenges to the steel and aluminum industries,” a White House statement read explaining the decision to delay tariffs. 

The administration also announced it had sealed tentative agreements with Australia, Brazil and Argentina to avoid the tariffs.

The EU, Mexico and Canada were facing tariffs as high as 25 percent imposed on steel and 10 percent on aluminum.

Both Canada and Mexico, which had received exemptions in March, were granted further extensions while talks over renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement continued.

Despite the temporary reprieve, the EU, the world’s largest trading bloc, balked at the White House contention the tariffs could be imposed on national security grounds and contested the legality of the duties.

Exhorting the administration to reconsider the tariffs, in an emailed statement the EU requested it be exempt from the duties and expressed disdain at being forced to negotiate under threats or intimidation:

“The EU should be fully and permanently exempted from these measures, as they cannot be justified on the grounds of national security,” it read. “The EU has also consistently indicated its willingness to discuss current market access issues of interest to both sides, but has also made clear that, as a longstanding partner and friend of the US, we will not negotiate under threat.”

American Iron and Steel Institute chairman and steel production company executive John Ferriola said Tuesday’s announcement was a disappointment because it gives “countries that have been dumping into our country another month to get their steel into our country before their tariffs or quotas go into effect.”

 

[Bloomberg] [Politico] [Photo courtesy AP via Wall Street Journal]