Quebec's aluminum industry gets temporary relief from Trump's tariffs


Donald Trump formally adopted new tariffs on steel and aluminium imports on Thursday while allowing U.S. allies to apply for exemptions, a sign of growing concern in Washington that the president was alienating America's closest global partners.

President Trump signed proclamations for new steel and aluminum tariffs at the White House Thursday afternoon, despite intense opposition from his own party.

The order slaps tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from any foreign country, with the exception of Canada and Mexico, which the order says will remain exempt "at least at this time".

He said he was considering exempting Mexico and Canada too, provided the USA got a good deal in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

American steel and aluminum workers have always been betrayed, but "that betrayal is now over", Trump said.

Several Republicans and White House Economic Adviser Gary Cohn, however, have raised concerns about instituting such stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

After Trump announced his tariffs last week ministers were unable to say if Australia would secure exemptions from the tariffs as it did under the previous steel import duties imposed by the Bush administration in 2002.

China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association also made similar strong comments, urging Beijing to take action on imports of coal, aluminum scrap, agriculture products and high-end consumer products.

"Trump's behavior is a challenge to the global steel industry and will definitely encounter opposition from more countries", CISA added.

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The prospect of across-the-board tariffs that would affect both America's allies and nations with massive USA trade surpluses made some in the White House uneasy, especially chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, who announced his resignation this week.

If Trump heard the complaints, he did not heed them.

Republicans worked for days both behind the scenes and with public pleas to try to get Trump to back down, or significantly curtail, his threat of tariffs.

Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., a frequent Trump detractor, immediately introduced a bill to nullify the tariffs, calling them "a marriage of two lethal poisons to economic growth - protectionism and uncertainty" and warning that they would lead to "economic disaster".

Worsening trade ties will test China's policy of "strategic composure" in dealing with Mr Trump's America First ethos. It eventually saw him quitting from his post in the White House, the latest in a series of high-profile departures from the Trump administration.

The fight over tariffs comes amid intense turmoil in the West Wing, which has seen waves of departures and unflattering news stories that have left Trump increasingly isolated in the Oval Office, according to two senior officials speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal thinking.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters in Toronto that NAFTA is "a completely separate issue".

The EU has warned that it stands ready to slap retaliatory tariffs on US steel, agricultural and other products, like peanut butter, cranberries and orange juice. It's a move that could impact businesses in Berks County.