Europe, 6 countries exempt from steel, aluminium tariffs for now: US

A worker stores steel collies from the Salzgitter AG in Salzgitter, Germany, on March 22, 2018.
A worker stores steel collies from the Salzgitter AG in Salzgitter, Germany, on March 22, 2018. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON (AFP, NYTIMES) - Europe and six other countries will be exempt at least temporarily from the harsh steel and aluminium tariffs President Donald Trump has imposed, a top US trade official said on Thursday (March 22).

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told a Senate panel that Mr Trump authorised a "pause" in the tariffs while talks are underway to find a more permanent solution.

Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and South Korea will also be exempt from the penalties of 25 per cent on steel imports and 10 per cent on aluminium, he said.

“The idea that the president has is that, based on a certain set of criteria, some countries should be out,” Mr Lighthizer said. “What he has decided to do is pause the implementation of the tariffs in respect to those countries.”

His remarks will come as relief for the exempted countries, which have been lobbying hard in recent weeks to win a reprieve from the blanket tariffs, due to come into effect Friday (March 23).

The leaders of several countries with close ties, including military alliances, with the US had warned that the restrictions could touch off a trade war and undercut a global economic recovery.