German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a statement that she and the leaders of France and Britain are prepared to push back if the Trump administration doesn't permanently exempt them from new import taxes.
For example, Cecilia the European commissioner for trade, is speaking today with U.S. secretary of commerce, Wilbur Ross. That is especially true if Trump continues to concentrate on forcing a reduction in the USA trade deficit, which economists agree is not the right way to gauge a healthy trading relationship. Trump has threatened to slap tariffs on as much as $150 billion in Chinese imports, while Beijing has vowed to respond with duties on everything from American soybeans to airplanes. China, in response, said it will impose its own tariffs on American products.
In exchange for a permanent exemption from the metals tariffs, the Trump administration is pushing countries to accept quotas on the amount of steel and aluminum they export to the U.S. South Korea accepted a quota of 70 percent of the average of its steel exports to the U.S. between 2015 and 2017, which can come in tariff-free.
Many companies are asking for exemptions specifically because they can not procure the amount of raw material they need from U.S. producers, according to filings.
Another EU source said "discussions are ongoing, we are waiting", indicating that Brussels was holding out for a last-minute decision from Trump, possibly as late as Monday night.
Since taking office, the right-wing populist, who campaigned on an "America First" platform, has withdrawn from the completed, but not yet ratified, 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and forced formal negotiations to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. Following President Macron's visit in Washington, Le Mair noted, Paris expects the European Union exemption to be extended.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday said any move by the United States to impose tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum would be a "very bad idea" guaranteed to disrupt trade between the two nations.
The EU has drawn up a list of "rebalancing" duties worth some 2.8 billion euros ($3.4 billion) to slap on US products if it is not permanently excluded. No decision on a request can be made until it's been reviewed and posted online for 30 days for any objections.