Trump: U.S. 'working very quickly' on deal to exempt Australia from tariffs

- Maret 09, 2018

President Donald Trump said on Friday that he and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia were working to “quickly” strike a deal to exempt the country from U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

The president tweeted that he had spoken to Turnbull, who Trump said was “committed to having a very fair and reciprocal military and trade relationship.”

“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!” Trump wrote.

Trump initially floated the idea of exempting the U.S. ally at a Cabinet meeting on Thursday while discussing his proposal to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum, a plan he signed later that day. The president said he planned to be “very flexible” in trade negotiations, reserving the right to extend or remove tariff exemptions and lower or raise the percentage of the duty imposed.

Determinations on whether to lift tariffs for certain nations, Trump said, would be based on national security interests.

“We’ll be making a decision as to who they are,” the president said. “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. We’ll be doing something with some other countries.”

Mexico and Canada, two fellow members of the North American Free Trade Agreement, are initially exempt from Trump’s tariffs, with the president saying their status going forward will depend on their ability to renegotiate the trade pact.

“If we reach a deal, it’s most likely we won’t be charging those two countries the tariffs,” he said.

Negotiators for the U.S., Mexico and Canada have tentatively set March 31 as a deadline for reworking the trade deal.

The steel and aluminum tariffs have ignited worries about a broader trade war, with some countries pledging to retaliate by taxing U.S. products.


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