WH: Mexico, Canada could receive tariff exemptions

The White House said Wednesday it may exempt Mexico, Canada and other nations from President TrumpDonald John TrumpCampaigns face attack ad dilemma amid coronavirus crisis Outgoing inspector general says Trump fired him for carrying out his 'legal obligations' Trump hits Illinois governor after criticism: 'I hear him complaining all the time' MORE's tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

"There are potential carve-outs for Mexico and Canada based on national security, and possibly other countries as well, based on that process,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters, adding other nations could receive exemptions as well.

"That would be a case-by-case and country-by-country basis but it would be determined [by] whether or not there is a national security exemption," she said.


Sanders reiterated that Trump plans to announce the tariffs by the end of the week.

The openness to exemptions represents a reversal from the White House’s previous insistence that no country would be spared from 25 percent tariffs on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum.

“As soon as he starts exempting countries, he has to raise the tariff on everybody else,” White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Sanders’s comments are a sign Trump could be bowing to growing concerns that sweeping tariffs could trigger a global trade war.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossTariffs on imported oil: A bad idea at the wrong time Tourism industry estimates 4.6 million travel-related jobs lost due to coronavirus 2020 census to run ads on 'Premio lo Nuestro' MORE said on Wednesday that the Trump administration was not looking to start a trade war.

"We're not trying to blow up the world,”  Ross told CNBC's "Squawk Box."


“There's no intention of that. We want to balance our needs to fix the trade deficit with the needs of the economy, and the needs of the global economy itself," he said.

On Monday, Trump connected the tariffs with the outcome of the North American Free Trade Agreement, signaling that a successful deal would ultimately lead to an exclusion from the tariffs for Mexico and Canada.

News of the plan has rattled markets around the world and spurred an outcry from Republican lawmakers, business leaders and U.S. trading partners.

The Dow Jones industrial average bounced back Wednesday afternoon after Sanders said carve-outs could be made. The index closed down about 83 points after being down more than 300 earlier in the day. 

Vicki Needham contributed.

Updated at 3:55 p.m.