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Trump sets steel and aluminium tariffs but exempts Canada, Mexico

Reuters  |  WASHINGTON 

By and Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. pressed ahead on Thursday with import tariffs of 25 percent on and 10 percent for aluminium but exempted and and offered the possibility of excluding other allies, backtracking from an earlier "no-exceptions" stance.

Describing the dumping of and aluminium in the U.S. market as "an assault on our country," Trump said in a announcement that the best outcome would for companies to move their mills and smelters to the He insisted that domestic metals production was vital to national security.

"If you don't want to pay tax, bring your plant to the USA," added Trump, flanked by and aluminium workers.

Plans for the tariffs, set to start in 15 days, have stirred opposition from business leaders and prominent members of Trump's own Republican Party, who fear the duties could spark retaliation from other countries and hurt the U.S.

Within minutes of the announcement, U.S. Republican Senator Jeff Flake, a Trump critic, said he would introduce a bill to nullify the tariffs. But that would likely require to muster an extremely difficult two-thirds majority to override a Trump veto.

Some Democrats praised the move, including Senator of West Virginia, who said it was "past time to defend our interests, our security and our workers in the global and that is exactly what the is proposing with these tariffs."

Trump's unexpected announcement of the tariffs last week roiled stock markets as it raised the prospect of an escalating global trade war. He appeared to have conceded some ground after concerted lobbying by Republican lawmakers, industry groups and U.S. allies abroad.

Canada, the largest supplier of both and aluminium to the United States, welcomed the it would not immediately be subject to the tariffs, but vowed to keep pressing Washington until the threat of tariffs had disappeared.Trump offered relief from and aluminium tariffs to countries that "treat us fairly on trade," a gesture aimed at putting pressure on and to give ground in separate talks on renegotiating the Agreement.

Mexican Minister said NAFTA talks were "independent" of Trump's actions and should not be subject to outside pressure.

In Beijing, said on Friday it "resolutely opposed" the tariffs and that they would "seriously impact the normal order of "

While Chinese exports to the have been suppressed by previous anti-dumping duties, the broad "Section 232" national security tariffs are widely seen as aiming to pressure to cut and aluminium production capacity that has driven down global prices.

stocks, which have gained for weeks on anticipation of the tariffs, fell after the announcement, with the index ending down 2.53 percent against a half percent gain in the broad index.

shares fell 7.5 percent, while dipped 0.9 percent. The Canadian dollar and Mexican peso gained slightly against the U.S. dollar.


A senior said other countries could seek talks with U.S. Trade to find "alternative ways" to mitigate the threat to U.S. national security posed by their and aluminium exports to the

It was unclear whether they would involve quotas or voluntary export restraints, but the said that permanent exemptions for and might result in higher tariffs on other countries to maintain 80 percent capacity usage targets for domestic producers.

said: "The EU is a close ally of the U.S. and we continue to be of the view that the EU should be excluded from these measures. I will seek more clarity on this issue in the days to come."

U.S. steel- and aluminum-consuming industries sharply criticized the tariffs as damaging them with higher costs.

"The U.S. will become an island of prices that will result in our customers simply sourcing our products from our overseas competitors and importing them into the tariff-free," the Precision Metalforming and National Tooling and Machining associations said in a joint statement.


Several major trading partners have said they might respond to the tariffs with direct action.

Countermeasures could include tariffs on U.S. oranges, tobacco and bourbon. motorcycles have also been mentioned, targeting Republican Paul Ryan's home state of

Even as Trump threatened tariffs and prodded his NAFTA partners, 11 nations gathered in to sign a landmark trade pact, one that Trump withdrew from on his first day in office last year.

Trump, who won the after a career in and reality TV, has long touted economic nationalism, promising to bring back jobs to the and save the country from trade deals he views as unfair. That has put him at odds with many in his Republican Party, traditionally a supporter of

(Additional reporting by and in Santiago, Michael Martina, Elias Glenn, Kim Coghill, Brian Love, Nichola Saminather, Doina Chiacu and Andrea Hopkins; Writing by David Stamp, and David Lawder; Editing by and Peter Cooney)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, March 09 2018. 08:43 IST