US decision on steel and aluminum tariff exemptions postponed until June

China 24

Exemptions to U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, scheduled to expire Tuesday, have now been extended to June 1, according to the White House. Moreover, the White House released a statement, saying U.S. has reached a final agreement with South Korea on steel imports, and reached agreements in principle with Argentina, Australia, and Brazil with respect to steel and aluminum.

CGTN’s Jim Spellman reports.

In March, U.S. President Donald Trump announced a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum. Canada, Mexico, the European Union and other countries were granted temporary exemptions. Those exemptions are scheduled to expire May 1, barring extensions from the Trump administration.

The tariffs are designed to help U.S. manufacturers. President Trump has tied steel and aluminum tariffs with Canada and Mexico to ongoing efforts to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The leaders of Germany and France, both close U.S. allies, visited Washington separately last week. Both left without a deal. The EU is reportedly contemplating retaliatory tariffs if the U.S. goes forward.

The U.S. Commerce Department has received several thousand requests from U.S. companies for exemptions from steel and aluminum tariffs. The businesses make everything from razors to piano wire to canned food. They’ve said they can’t get the materials they need from American manufacturers. The Commerce Department has not yet announced if any of these companies will be exempt.

Meantime, a bilateral trade conflict with China is brewing. Trump has threatened possible tariffs on $150 billion-worth of Chinese products, and China has vowed to respond with its own duties on U.S. products.

Later this week, a delegation led by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin will be in Beijing for negotiations.

“I think we’ve got a very good chance of making a deal. As you know, they’ve just stated, President Xi, a terrific guy and a friend of mine, but he’s representing China, and I’m representing the United States,” Trump said last week.

Separate from Trump’s threats, China has been easing restrictions on trade.

“We will further open automobile, shipbuilding, aircraft manufacturing and other industries on the basis that these manufacturing industries are already basically opened, and relax restrictions on the ratio of foreign ownership structure, especially that in the automobile industry,” said Chen Yin of China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

China has said it will defend its interests, and will not back down from U.S. threats.