Australia to be exempted from steel, aluminium import tariff: Donald Trump

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Trump drew on rarely used national security grounds to place a 25 percent tax on steel imports and 10 percent tax on imported aluminum.

The president's move to impose punitive tariffs is meant to fulfil a campaign promise to protect the USA steel industry and bring back jobs to numerous blighted Rust Belt communities in swing states that helped elect him in 2016. Both come into effect in 15 days.

Most experts agree that China is not moving fast enough to close steel mills and aluminum smelters that it no longer needs because its economy is growing more slowly as it has gotten much bigger. The president said he would exempt Canada and Mexico while negotiating for changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The EU has warned that it stands ready to slap "rebalancing" tariffs on about 2.8 billion euros ($3.4 billion) worth of USA steel, agricultural and other products, like peanut butter, cranberries and orange juice.

The senior administration official lambasted critics of the president's tariffs saying, "Nobody inside the beltway should express any sort of surprise".

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"I am pleased that the President has listened to those who share my concerns and included an exemption for some American allies, but it should go further".

The Trump administration has argued that protecting domestic steel and aluminum is a matter of national security, despite acknowledging that USA military requirements for steel and aluminum require only 3 percent of domestic production. "Should restrictions be imposed on Canadian steel and aluminum products, Canada will take responsive measures to defend its trade interests and workers".

European Union trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom vowed to press for an EU exemption from USA tariffs on foreign steel and aluminium when she meets her American counterpart in Brussels on Saturday.

"We're going to be very fair, we're going to be very flexible but we're going to protect the American worker as I said I would do in my campaign", Trump said. "In a globalized world it is particularly unhelpful as it will harm the initiator as well as the target country", China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.

America's friends deserve "flexibility and co-operation" when the measures are imposed, Trump said Thursday at the signing ceremony. "At the same time, we have some friends and some enemies where we have been tremendously taken advantage of over the years on trade and on military", he said.

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"I am disappointed in this announcement and will be working with the businesses that may be potentially impacted by this decision along with the administration about how best to continue our joint efforts to create jobs and spur new growth", Gardner said.

Navarro said that merely exempting Canada would force the other tariffs to have to be increased; what if Trump adds Japan and/or South Korea to the list?

"Steel tariffs didn't work when President Bush implemented them in 2002 or when President Obama proposed them on tires in 2009", he added.

"We want our workers to be protected and we want, frankly, our companies to be protected".

If the countries providing 25, 30 or even 40 percent of the steel coming into the United States - it would be 40 percent if Japan and South Korea were also exempted - are not subject to the new tariffs, that would not seem to be much of a boon to US steel manufacturers.

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