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EU, UK call for permanent exemption from Trump tariffs

EU, UK call for permanent exemption from Trump tariffs
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The European Union and the United Kingdom urged the White House to grant them permanent exemptions from steep steel and aluminum tariffs to avoid further inflaming trade tensions. 

President TrumpDonald TrumpCaitlyn Jenner says election was not 'stolen,' calls Biden 'our president' Overnight Health Care: FDA authorizes Pfizer vaccine for adolescents | Biden administration reverses limits on LGBTQ health protections Overnight Defense: US fires 30 warning shots at Iranian boats | Kabul attack heightens fears of Afghan women's fates | Democratic Party leaders push Biden on rejoining Iran deal MORE on Monday decided to delay final decisions on the tariffs for the EU, Canada and Mexico until June 1 as a deadline for the tariffs approached.

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But U.S. allies keen to work with Washington and other trading partners on global overcapacity of steel say Trump's decision to delay the tariffs by a month only creates more problems. 

“The U.S. decision prolongs market uncertainty, which is already affecting business decisions,” the European Commission said in a statement.

“The EU should be fully and permanently exempted from these measures, as they cannot be justified on the grounds of national security,” the Commission said.

Trump has proposed 25 percent tariffs on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum over what the White House says are national security concerns.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossFormer Trump officials find tough job market On The Money: Retail sales drop in latest sign of weakening economy | Fast-food workers strike for minimum wage | US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits MORE has said that the United States is focused on getting metals importers to agree to quotas in exchange for tariff relief. 

"In all of these negotiations, the administration is focused on quotas that will restrain imports, prevent transshipment, and protect the national security," the White House said in a statement on Monday.

The EU argues that overcapacity in the steel and aluminum sectors does not originate there so they shouldn't be wrapped up in Trump's proposed tariffs plan. 

“On the contrary, the EU has over the past months engaged at all possible levels with the U.S. and other partners to find a solution to this issue,” the commission said.

The EU has been open to working on trade issues "but has also made clear that, as a longstanding partner and friend of the U.S., we will not negotiate under threat."

"Any future transatlantic work program has to be balanced and mutually beneficial," the commission said. 

The EU, which has been a vocal critic of the tariffs, has threatened $3.5 billion in retaliatory tariffs on jeans, motorcycles and orange juice if Trump follows through with the metals tariffs.

Two European leaders — French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel — lobbied Trump to reconsider the tariffs during trips to Washington last week but received no public guarantee.

European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström has also been talking to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerBob LighthizerWhiskey, workers and friends caught in the trade dispute crossfire GOP senator warns quick vote on new NAFTA would be 'huge mistake' Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 MORE over the past few weeks, and these discussions are expected to continue. 

On Monday, Trump signed two proclamations authorizing modifications of the Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum, which will extend negotiations with the EU for another month.

“It is positive that the U.K. has been granted a further exemption to these tariffs,” a U.K. government spokesperson said.

“We will continue to work closely with our EU partners and the U.S. government to achieve a permanent exemption, ensuring our important steel and aluminum industries are safeguarded,” the spokesperson said.

Still, the U.K. expressed concern about the effects of the tariffs on global trade and vowed to "continue to work with the EU on a multilateral solution to the global problem of overcapacity, as well as to manage the impact on domestic markets."

The White House said this would be the final period to reach a deal with its key trading partners.

The administration has also reached agreements in principle on tariffs with Australia, Argentina and Brazil, which are expected to be completed in the next month.

The countries, which represent major metals importers into the United States, have been in negotiations for weeks with the Trump administration to avoid steep tariffs.