Tariffs Deadline Approaches; No Word on What’s Ahead

- April 30th, 2018

The May 1 deadline for steel and aluminum tariffs is coming, and there has been no indication of what countries with a temporary reprieve will see next.

As the clock winds down on temporary exemptions from US President Donald Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs, American allies are still wondering what’s going to happen next.

When Trump imposed the tariffs in late March, slapping a 25-percent levy on steel imports and a 10-percent levy on aluminum imports, a handful of countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the European Union, found themselves on the temporary reprieve list.

However, their temporary reprieve status now has less than 24 hours of validity left, and Trump has yet to make an announcement on whether the exemptions will be extended for any of the countries currently involved.

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“The president has not made any decision yet,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox Business Network. “We’ve been having lots of discussions internally, we’ve been having lots of discussions with our counterparts,” he added. “We’re addressing these issues real time.”

As the May 1 deadline for a decision on tariffs looms ever closer, countries that would see some of the heaviest impact have laid their cards out on the table.

China struck back by threatening to put $3 billion and later $50 billion worth of tariffs on American exports like pork, metal and nuts; meanwhile, the EU has said it will put duties on staple American goods like bourbon and Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Offering a permanent exemption from the tariffs as a reward, Trump’s administration has been trying to get countries to accept quotas on how much steel and aluminum they export to the US. South Korea is the only country to have budged so far; it has accepted a quota of 70 percent of the average of its steel exports to the US between 2015 and 2017.

In the meantime, the tariff situation has put a strain on ongoing conversations surrounding the North American Free Trade Agreement, as both Mexico and Canada have been vocally opposed to the quota.

“There is no justification whatsoever for tariffs or quotas on Canadian steel and aluminum as a national security consideration,” Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Friday (April 27).

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Securities Disclosure: I, Olivia Da Silva, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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