EU, Japan push for Trump tariff exemptions

March 11, 2018

The EU's Cecilia Malmstrom has met with the US envoy on exemption from the new metal tariffs.

The EU's Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom has met with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer amid efforts for the European Union to secure an exemption from steel and aluminium imports imposed by US President Donald Trump.

The trilateral meeting, which also includes Japanese Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko, comes two days after Mr Trump signed proclamations imposing tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminium imports.

The meeting in Brussels had been scheduled weeks ago as part of ongoing efforts to address over-capacities in the steel and aluminium sector.

"Given the circumstances, during the visit of US Ambassador Lighthizer to Brussels this Saturday, the EU will convey the message that we expect the EU to be fully excluded from the US measures without preconditions or negotiations," a European Commission source said ahead of the talks on condition of anonymity.

It comes as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull confirmed Australia will be exempt from the tariffs once Mr Trump signs an executive order, .

After ongoing discussions between the two nations, both leaders confirmed the exemption via social media on Saturday morning.

"Great discussion today on security and trade. Australia/US trade is fair & reciprocal & each of our nations has no closer ally," the prime minister wrote on Twitter.

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

Mr Turnbull later told reporters that legal paperwork confirming the exemption was yet to be completed, but an executive order would put Mr Trump's direction in place.

The EU is arguing that it has a long-standing security alliance with the US and is co-operating to address the issue of overcapacity in the steel sector.

Mr Trump justified his move by invoking a rarely used US law authorising presidential action against imports that undermine national security.

Ms Malmstrom said on Friday that she would seek clarity on the US decision and was counting on an EU exemption. But she has also vowed to press ahead with countermeasures, in line with World Trade Organisation rules, if the tariffs are imposed.

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