Despite Extension, The EU Is Unhappy With Trump's Tariff Exemptions

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Friends with trade benefits

The decision on imposing US tariffs on steel and aluminum from key countries - expected to come May 1, less than a week before NPE2018 - has been delayed another month by President Donald Trump.

With the extension leaving the door open to more permanent arrangements, shares in U.S. steelmakers dropped Tuesday. "The EU should be fully and permanently exempted from these measures, as they can not be justified on the grounds of national security", the statement said.

Trump originally announced his intention to impose the tariffs - 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum - at the beginning of March.

Five of the top 10 steel exporters to the USA were provided exemptions and two exempted countries, Canada and Argentina, make up 55% of all aluminum imported by the US.

The EU and United States should "develop a positive trade agenda in the interests of both sides", Steffen Seibert, Merkel's chief spokesman, said on Twitter Tuesday. Any future transatlantic work programme has to be balanced and mutually beneficial, said the Commission.

London on Monday had welcomed the "positive" decision.

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South Korea's permanent exemption is in exchange for having agreed to cut its steel exports to the U.S. by about 30 per cent.

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"With so much at stake, we urge the administration to continue its focus on successfully concluding NAFTA negotiations and providing much-needed economic stability for rural Americans", they said.

The administration has also reached a final agreement with South Korea on steel imports, the outlines of which were previously announced by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Republic of Korea Minister for Trade Hyun-chong Kim, the White House said in a statement.

Trump in March chose to slap tariffs of 25 per cent on imported steel and 10 per cent on imported aluminium.

However, the European Union officials expressed their dissatisfaction as the US didn't grant permanent exception on steel and aluminium tariffs while managed to reach an agreement with Argentina, Brazil and Australia.

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France's finance minister said on Thursday that nothing short of an outright European Union exemption from US steel tariffs would be acceptable and that there would be no talks with Washington if it was not granted.

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The last-minute delay of steel tariffs for the EU, Canada and Mexico reflect an ongoing negotiation tactic by the U.S. Former members of the NAFTA have since been made exempt from duties.

The tariffs on steel and aluminum imports into the U.S. went into effect March 23 as a result of the Commerce Department's Section 232 investigations into the effect of these imports on USA national security.

While it's a good sign the talking with China and it's appropriate to address concerns about China's trade practices, the administration's proposed approach is not the answer, French said.

Trump met French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week, but gave no indication of whether he planned to exempt the European Union, which a year ago exported over $7.7 billion of steel and aluminum to the USA market.

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