9 March 2018Hot off the Press
US President Donald Trump has signed two proclamations imposing tariffs on steel and alumnium imports, with Canada and Mexico being the only exemptions so far.
Flanked by workers who will supposedly benefit from the moves, Mr Trump signed off on the 25% levy on steel and 10% levy on aluminium.
The White House says the tariffs, which will take effect in 15 days, are a matter of national security.
President Trump said, “A strong steel and aluminum industry are vital to our national security. You don’t have steel, you don’t have a country.”
In addition to Canada and Mexico, the President said countries will be given the opportunity to justify why they should be exempt from the tariffs. This may be an option for Australia.
“If the same goals can be accomplished by other means, America will remain open to modifying or removing the tariffs for individual nations, as long as we can agree on a way to ensure that their products no longer threaten our security,” Mr Trump said.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Australian diplomats in Washington were lobbying for Australia’s exemption.
“We are all over it,” Ms Bishop told ABC’s AM.
“We are focusing very much on gaining an exemption and that is what all our efforts have been directed to from the Prime Minister to the Trade Minister, all our officials, all our diplomats and that is what I have been doing here in New York.”
The American Australian Business Council have also been lobbying Washington with major Australian business figures signing a letter to Mr Trump urging him to make Australia exempt from the tariffs.
“… we respectfully request that your economic team consider the historic trade surpluses, our $1.29 trillion two-way trade between the United States and Australia, and our critical defence relationship before taking any action that might have demonstrable negative impact on the mutually beneficial American-Australian bilateral relationship.” — An extract from the letter published by ABC.