Trump may exempt more countries from tariffs: Treasury's Mnuchin

Sarah Sanders

It recognized the complex, integrated economies of all three trade partners in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the damage a 25% import tariff on steel and 10% tariff on aluminum imports into the USA would cause all three nations.

It may be too early to predict how many and how fierce the battlefronts will be, but the latest statements from US President Donald Trump and leaders of countries like China, the European Union, Canada and Mexico point to a large-scale trade war in the making.

He said, "What strikes me is whatever convictions you have about trade, we are convinced that disputes should be discussed and resolved in a multilateral framework".

The European Union, Mr. Trump rued, makes it nearly impossible for the do business with them.

Brussels wants to maximise the political impact of its reprisals on the U.S. while minimising the impact of a trade war on European consumers.

Canada and Mexico, both members of the North American Free Trade Agreement, also warned that they would take strong countermeasures.

Seko did not go into what conditions might allow Japan to evade tariffs and, asked if Lighthizer had brought up the US trade deficit with Japan, Seko said no.

A Mexican government official also denied that any concessions were offered to Washington.

With the world on the brink of the fiercest trade war in recent years, the tasks before South Korea are evident.

The NAFTA is a deal signed by Canada, Mexico, and the US, creating a trilateral trade bloc in North America.

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European Union president Donald Tusk said "trade wars are bad and easy to lose", directly rebuffing Trump's claim last week they were "good and easy to win".

However, it took on more urgency after Trump's tariff move.

The proclamation instead pointed to economic integration between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, the fact the U.S. also exports steel to both Canada and Mexico, and the three countries' shared commitment to national security and addressing global excess capacity in steel production.

He added that national security was an important part of that deal and, if a deal is made, "this will figure into the deal and we won't have the tariffs on Canada or Mexico".

"I can assure that President Trump is going to be no Herbert Hoover".

The spokesman sharply criticised the imposition of punitive tariffs by the U.S. and said European producers would suffer "significantly from the loss of one of their most important export markets". The commerce minister also blamed the trade imbalance in part on controls over US high-tech exports to China.

In terms of employment, the same argument goes that the number of American jobs to be lost in other industries because of the higher steel prices would be greater than that of workers to be added to the steel sector. "Do you know quite how much US steel Canada buys?" said another person familiar with Canada's lobbying effort.

"Thank you for confirming new tariffs won't have to be imposed on Australian steel & aluminium - good for jobs in Australia and in United States!"

Notwithstanding, Trump remains as steadfast and defiant as ever.

However, he said "real friends" of the U.S. could win waivers from the measures, which come into force after 15 days.

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