WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump decided to delay the imposition of tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from the European Union, Australia, Argentina, Brazil and South Korea, Washington’s top trade negotiator said Thursday.
“The idea that the president has is that, based on a certain set of criteria, some countries should be out,” US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said at a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee.
“There are countries with whom we’re negotiating and the question becomes the obvious one that you think, as a matter of business, how does this work. So what he has decided to do is to pause the imposition of the tariffs with respect to those countries,” Lighthizer said.
Trump announced March 8 that he would impose tariffs of 25 percent and 10 percent on imports of steel and aluminum, respectively.
The tariffs are set to take effect Friday.
The president said from the start that Canada and Mexico would be exempt from the levies pending the conclusion of the process to renegotiate the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement.
Trump also left open the possibility that other countries might obtain exemptions.
“Many countries are calling to negotiate better trade deals so they don’t have to pay the tariffs,” the president said Thursday as he signed an executive order mandating a separate set of trade measures against China for its “unfair” practices regarding intellectual property.