The temporary exemptions on US steel and aluminum tariffs will expire tomorrow on May 1. There is little progress made on trade negotiation between the US and other countries. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was quoted saying that some countries will have their exemptions extended, but not all. But there is no more information from the White House regarding the pressing issue.
So far, only South Korea is granted permanent exemptions after revising the bilateral free trade agreements with the US. There, South Korea agreed to a quota of around 2.7 million tons of steel exports to the US. And, the quota for US car imports was doubled to 50,000, without the requirement to meet local safety standards.
NAFTA negotiations made some progress last week after intensive work, but it’s not ready to be wrapped up before May 1 target. Talks will instead resume on May 7 after US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer returns from his China trip. It’s believed that Canada and Mexico will have their exemptions extended but it’s only confirmed when it’s announced.
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland reiterated her stance that NAFTA is a “completely separate track” from the steel tariffs. And, “there is no justification whatsoever for tariffs or quotas on Canadian steel or aluminum as a national security consideration.” Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo warned of retaliation and said “ambassador Lighthizer knows very clearly our position and how we have to react if any measure is imposed on Mexico.” It’s reported that Mexico already has a list of American products that it would tax in retaliation.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel also warned of retaliation. She issued a statement after dialogue with French President Emmanuel Macron and UK Prime Minister Theresa May. Merkel said the three leaders “agreed that the U.S. ought not to take any trade measures against the European Union,” which is “resolved to defend its interests within the multilateral trade framework.”
This topic will make some headlines in the early part of the week.