White House: Trump will delay steel tariffs for EU, six countries

White House: Trump will delay steel tariffs for EU, six countries
© Greg Nash

The White House formally announced late Thursday that six countries and members of the European Union (EU) would be temporarily exempt from President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates ambassador to Turkey Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago after signing bill to avert shutdown CNN, MSNBC to air ad turned down by Fox over Nazi imagery MORE's tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

Trump authorized an exemption for Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, South Korea and all 28 EU member countries while the U.S. negotiates long-term plans with foreign leaders from each country and the European body.

Trump will decide by May 1 whether to extend each exemption depending on the status of those talks, the White House said. 

U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerTrump says no discussion of extending deadline in Chinese trade talks McConnell urges GOP senators to call Trump about tariffs Companies brace for trade war MORE had said earlier Thursday during a hearing on Capitol Hill that Trump had decided to pause the tariffs for those countries.

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The exemption applies to the top four exporters of steel to the United States — Canada, Brazil, South Korea and Mexico — which collectively account for about 50 percent of the steel imported into the United States. 

Trump announced on March that the U.S. would impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum imports for national security reasons, in a move he argued would protect domestic workers and benefit U.S. companies. 

The tariffs are set to go into effect on Friday for all other nations that send their metals to the United States, including countries such as Japan, China, Russia, India and Turkey.

Lawmakers from the president's own party and leaders from around the world warned Trump against imposing the tariffs, saying they could spark a trade war.

Trump has brushed off those concerns, but China on Thursday announced it is prepared it implement reciprocal tariffs after the U.S. moved to specifically impose additional levies on Chinese products amounting to $50 billion.