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Commerce's Wilbur Ross deflects the tariff question the stock market most wants the answer to

Key Points
  • In refusing to answer whether all U.S. trading partners would be affected by the Trump tariffs, Ross said: "Let's assume that to be the case."
  • But Ross argued that either way, the tariffs are "no big deal" because the prices increases on steel and aluminum would be negligible.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on tariffs and trade policy

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was asked a very pointed question Friday on CNBC about whether President Donald Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs will exempt allies such as Canada.

But in a "Squawk on the Street" interview, Ross deflected an attempt at a straight answer, saying the tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum as announced Thursday by the president would have a "fairly broad effect."

In a second run at pinning Ross down on whether that means all trading partners — without exemption — the Commerce secretary said, "That's what the president seemed to announce yesterday." He added, "Let's assume that to be the case."

Ross contended that either way, Trump's tariffs are "no big deal" because the price increases on steel and aluminum would be negligible.

The impact that tariffs might have on American relations with Canada at a time when NAFTA is being renegotiated by the United States, Canada and Mexico knocked the stock market for a loop in a sell-off that started Thursday and continued early Friday.

WATCH: Tariffs will have broad but trivial impact on prices, says Ross

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross: Trump tariffs will have a 'broad' but 'trivial' impact on prices

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