Wednesday 15th Aug, 2018

Trump extends tariff exemptions, Australia has ‘deal’

Donald Trump. Photo: Creative Commons / Gage Skidmore

Australia has reportedly reached a formal agreement to avoid stiff tariffs imposed by the United States on steel and aluminium imports, while other nations have had their temporary exemptions extended, according to reports.

Reports this week, citing sources within the White House, said US President Donald Trump had decided to further delay tariffs on steel and aluminium from the EU, Mexico, and Canada, with the view of securing deals with each country for improved access for US businesses.

White House sources reportedly confirmed Australia, Brazil and Argentina have already agreed to terms on such deals, with details set to be finalised by the end of the month.

The announcement from the White House that certain tariff exemptions had been extended for other nations came just hours before they were due to end.

Their eleventh-hour extension is being viewed as another tactic by the Trump Administration to keep its opponents guessing.

Peterson Institute of International Economics senior fellow Chad Brown, quoted by The Washington Post, described the situation as “uncharted territory in terms of trade policy”.

“What President Trump has done is make everything uncertain in trade policy,” Brown said. “You don’t know on almost a day-to-day basis what trade policy is going to be and businesses find it very difficult to operate in that kind of environment.”

China remains a key target of the new metals tariffs. Trump has repeatedly singled out China for the significant trade surplus it holds over the United States, and has vowed to correct this imbalance.

China has responded to the tariffs with tariffs of its own, and has threatened to up the ante if the Trump Administration doesn’t back down.

The White House said this week it was sending a delegation to Beijing to hold trade talks.