U.S. Will Allow Tariff Respite For Some Countries, Not All, Says Com Sec Wilbur Ross.

After the expiring of the temporary exemptions from the steel and aluminum tariffs on Tuesday, there are plans by the Trump administration to extent the exemption to some countries – not all, said U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

Ross however did not identify or name any country that would be exempted from the tariffs in an interview in Washington late Saturday. The official announcement would be made before the setting in of the tariffs on May 1, he said. Countries have been asked to agree to import quotas in exchange of getting exclusion from the tariffs on the metals, he added.

Even as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is set to head team this week to hold talks on trade issues of the U.S. with China in Beijing, the tariffs on steel and aluminum has resulted in tensions between the U.S. some of its closest allies. There has been threats from Donald Trump to impose import tariffs on Chinese goods worth $150 billion in case the talks do not yield the kind of results that the U.S. is expecting. On the other hand, China has also threatened with tit-for-tat tariffs on U.S. goods imported into China.

China has already filed a case against the U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs with the World Trade Organization and European Union last week has asked to joint case.

Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, the European Union, Mexico and South Korea were given a temporary respite from the steel and aluminum tariffs when it was implemented in March. The onus of negotiations with countries that were looking for exemptions from the tariffs was given to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

After South Korea and the U.S. managed to come to an agreement on a new rehashed bilateral free trade deal, it was the only country to get relief form the tariffs.

The ministry said that South Korea has agreed to limit U.S. shipments of the metal to about 2.7 million tons a year in order to get relief from the steel tariff. Additionally, the number of cars that each individual U.S. car making company can sell in South Korea has also been doubled as a part of the free trade agreement.

Among the allies of the U.S. the most vocal on the issue of steel and aluminum tariffs has been the European Union which has criticized the move and claimed that the move does not make any sense for the U.S. to target steel and aluminum shipments from the partners of the country in defense issues and in using the guise of national security risk. The economic block has also threatened that it could target U.S. exports into the EU – including orange juice and blue jeans, in retaliatory tariffs on products worth $3.5 billion.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron both failed to secure any form of guarantees from the Trump administration earlier this week as they attempted to appeal directly to Trump for permanent exemptions during their separate visits to Washington.

(Adapted from Bloomberg.com)


Categories: Economy & Finance

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