Trump may exempt more countries from tariffs: Treasury's Mnuchin


U.S. President Donald Trump set import tariffs on Thursday of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminium, to come into force in 15 days. In the event he exempted Canada and Mexico, fellow members of the North American Free Trade Agreement which he is trying to renegotiate.

But after two-way talks with Lighthizer, European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem tweeted: "No immediate clarity on the exact USA procedure for exemption however, so discussions will continue next week".

"Everything you have for breakfast", Malmstroem said. Talks would continue next week.

"We have a very close relationship with Australia, we have a trade surplus with Australia, great country, long-term partner, we'll be doing something with them", he said.

"We call for calm-headed behaviour", Mr Seko said.

"He only explained the schedule and the procedures", he said. "We will look at the impact on Japanese businesses and make a final decision".

European Commissioner Malmstrom, who coordinates policy for the 28-nation EU, the world's biggest trading bloc, said she stood ready to go to the WTO, the worldwide trade arbiter, to impose the bloc's own safeguards within 90 days.

The European Union and Japan, the United States' top economic and military ally in Asia, also reiterated that their exports were not a threat to US national security, rejecting Trump's justification for imposing the tariffs.

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Lighthizer made no public comment after the meetings with Malmström and Japanese Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko, which lasted several hours.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday warned his U.S. counterpart Trump against forging ahead with the planned tariffs, saying they risked provoking a mutually destructive "trade war".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that "no one can win in such a race to the bottom" while French President Emmanuel Macron said Trump risked provoking a mutually destructive "trade war". "We are talking about unilateral action against global rules".

"Working very quickly on a security agreement so we don't have to impose steel or aluminum tariffs on our ally, the great nation of Australia!"

It has already started monitoring incoming metal flows to see whether a surge occurs.

The EU is also readying a list of countermeasures targeting about $3.5 billion in annual trade.

The European Union expects to be excluded from USA steel and aluminum tariffs but will go to the World Trade Organization to impose its own measures if Washington presses ahead, EU officials said yesterday.

European industry associations called on Malmstrom to respond if the EU was subjected to the tariffs, saying they would hit the steel and aluminum sectors hard.