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Treasury Secretary Mnuchin: More countries may be exempted from the tariffs

  • Canada and Mexico may not be the only two countries getting a break from the U.S. tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tells CNBC the process will continue to determine whether other countries should be excused from the duties.

Canada and Mexico may not be the only two countries getting a break from the U.S. tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday the process will continue to determine whether other countries should be excused from the duties that President Donald Trump announced Thursday.

"The president can do exemptions, and my expectation is there may be some other countries that he considers in the next two weeks," Mnuchin said in an interview on CNBC's "Squawk Alley."

Mnuchin said earlier this week he favors the recently adopted tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

However, the tariffs have been controversial, with members of Trump's own Republican party pushing back on his efforts to level the playing field for American manufacturers. Trump justified the tariffs by saying the imports were posing a threat to national security.

Mnuchin said they are all part of the president's agenda, including the historic tax cuts passed in December, seeking to protect U.S. interests at home and abroad.

"This is not a conventional president, and because of that we're getting results that we wouldn't have otherwise seen," he said. "A lot of people said we'd never get tax reform done, a lot of people said the U.S. economy could never grow at 3 percent."

The Treasury chief spoke at the New York Stock Exchange, amid the backdrop of a rallying stock market following Friday's government report that nonfarm payrolls had jumped 313,000 in February, well above Wall Street expectations.

"Anytime we do anything, we have to analyze the risks," he said. "But if you want to move forward with the agenda for American companies you have to be willing to take certain risks."

Mnuchin also spoke at length about the news breaking overnight that Trump will meet with North Korean President Kim Jong Un for talks about nuclear weapons.

A year of "maximum pressure" on the Kim government is paying dividends, Mnuchin said.

"The president is determined that there won't be nuclear weapons on the peninsula," he said. "I think this is a very important move forward that they're willing to say they will stop the testing and they're willing to have discussions."