Published: Sun, March 11, 2018

US working to spare Australia tariffs

US working to spare Australia tariffs

Malcolm Turnbull could be the "best-placed leader in the world" to navigate Donald Trump's proposed tariff hike, his treasurer says.

He said Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is "committed to having a very fair and reciprocal military and trade relationship".

The United States is working to exempt ally Australia from its newly unveiled foreign steel and aluminium tariffs, President Donald Trump said on Saturday, tying the effort to a security agreement.

Despite protests from Republicans and worldwide allies, U.S. President Donald Trump signed two proclamations Thursday to impose tariffs on aluminum and steel imports, but Canada and Mexico were made exempt pending a new NAFTA deal.

"The effect of imposing a tariff on Australian steel to the west coast would be simply putting up the price of building in California", Mr Turnbull told the Financial Review Business Summit in Sydney.

The president's tweet came a day after he imposed tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum imports.

"Spoke to PM TurnbullMalcolm of Australia".

Julie Bishop said earlier today Australia was unlikely to be exempt from the tariffs

A senior White House official said that there is language in the president's proclamation outlining "security relationships" with countries around the globe, and noted they "will be welcome to discuss" with the U.S.

"I had a frank discussion with the United States side about the serious pending issue of steel/aluminum tariffs, " the top European Union trade official, Cecilia Malmström, wrote on Twitter after the meeting.

Opposition trade and investment spokesman Jason Clare praised the government for securing the exemption, but was still wary of what tariffs on other United States trade nations might mean for Australian jobs.

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd said on Saturday he was also concerned about a global tit-for-tat, taking issue with Mr Trump's belief that trade wars are good.

Any exemptions would ultimately be a decision for Trump, Ciobo said.

According to The Australian, Australia exports $US210 million in steel and $US213 million in aluminium to the U.S. each year.

"You've got to remember America wants a steel tariff ... and there might be retaliation from other countries ... it might have an adverse impact on Western Australia due to the tens of thousands of jobs that rely upon our iron ore industry", he said.

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