The steel tariff threat was seen by many to be an attempt by the Trump administration to pressure Canada and Mexico to complete the NAFTA talks-giving in to other USA demands or giving up some of their own-rather than risk the punishing steel and aluminum duties.
Australia has a trade and investment deficit with the United States, which is understood to have played a considerable role in alleviating Mr Trump's sense of grievance.
Mr Trump said in a tweet on Saturday the United States was ready to drop its tariffs if the European Union lowered its "horrific" rates on U.S. products.
Asked to respond to Trump's accusations that the EU is imposing barriers to US automakers, Malmstrom said that "it's hard to argue on Twitter over these issues, but the European Union is a very open market".
The big worry is that U.S. trading partners will retaliate. Canadian officials reacted strongly to threats of USA tariffs on steel and aluminum. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said he disagrees with the move, and other congressional Republicans are hoping to block the duties with legislative action. Chinese commerce minister Zhong Shan said, "There are no winners in a trade war".
The decision to slap hefty tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum, which the White House made formal on Thursday, has roiled worldwide markets, angered longtime trading partners and prompted threats from the president's own party to stop the tariffs through legislation.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told CNBC in an interview Friday that the president will consider national security, noting that Trump wants to be sure that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation gets more funding from European allies who Trump has previously criticized for not contributing enough.
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The result is that even some of the U.S.'s closest trading partners are bewildered about where the announcement leaves them.
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 tariffs are being applied on the grounds of national security, which the president said was a "very important aspect" of the NAFTA accord that came into force in 1994.
However Trump specifically mentioned NAFTA in his press conference announcing the exemptions on March 8.
Trudeau also said it was in part due to the hard work of Canadian officials that Trump exempted Canada from the tariffs last week. We're just doing it with less people, and that's mostly about productivity. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker responded with a list of threatened tariffs on U.S products, lamenting: "This is basically a stupid process". "It has a negative impact on the NAFTA talks".
"In today's environment, there's a number of our USA citizens who think that they've lost their job as a result of worldwide trade".
The decision is likely to play well in steel towns and the industrial mid-west but Congress representatives from agricultural, export-orientated states, will probably fear retaliation, as will those from the IT areas like Seattle and Silicon Valley, which rely on worldwide markets for their success.