The exemption granted to European Union countries from U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs will expire May 1, pending ongoing discussions, according to a proclamation by U.S. President Donald Trump released overnight.
The EU, Australia, Argentina, South Korea and Brazil were on Thursday exempted from America’s 25 percent tariff on steel imports and 10 percent duty on aluminum, which takes effect Friday. Trump initially announced only that Canada and Mexico would be exempt, but hinted that other allies might also be let off the hook.
The Trump administration has bound the EU’s tariff exemption to the condition of launching talks to tackle “trade irritants,” European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said Thursday. Malmström and U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced Wednesday they were launching “immediately a process of discussion … on trade issues of common concern.”
Trump has argued that the tariffs are necessary to protect sectors that are important to national security, which are being hurt by an influx of cheap foreign imports.
In the proclamation, Trump underscored the fact that the EU and the U.S. have a “shared commitment to addressing global excess capacity in steel production.” Trump also invited other countries to discuss possible exemptions.
EU leaders meeting in Brussels for the European Council summit on Thursday postponed issuing a formal statement on trade until Friday because they were still waiting for Trump’s official statement on the exemption.