US extends tariff exemptions for European Union and other allies

Key Points
  • The May 1 deadline for steel and aluminum tariff exemptions for U.S. allies has been extended.
  • Instead, Trump decided to postpone any decision on the European Union, Canada and Mexico for 30 days.
White House extends tariff exemptions for key allies
White House extends tariff exemptions for key allies

The May 1 deadline for steel and aluminum tariff exemptions for U.S. allies has been extended, the White House said.

Instead, the Trump administration has decided to postpone the decision on some allies, including the European Union, for 30 days to allow further discussions. Those extensions will affect the EU, Canada and Mexico.

The U.S. has agreed in principle with Argentina, Australia and Brazil on "alternative means" to address steel tariffs for now, but the White House said if these alternatives aren't finalized shortly, it leaves open the possibility of reimposing tariffs. A senior administration official told CNBC that decision period would be 30 days, as well.

South Korea's exemption from tariffs is permanent because it agreed to quotas as part of a new trade deal. Administration officials have asked other countries what level of quotas they would agree to.

One person briefed by the administration told CNBC: "Quotas are an active part of the discussion with every country on the exemption list."

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is leading the process for country exemptions, except for the European Union, which Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is leading. The Commerce Department is also spearheading the process for product exemptions. The National Security Council is overseeing the entire process.

The May 1 deadline on the tariff exemptions was set in a presidential memorandum on the topic.

Here's the statement on the extensions:

Today, President Donald J. Trump issued two proclamations authorizing modifications of the Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum. The Administration has reached a final agreement with South Korea on steel imports, the outlines of which were previously announced by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Republic of Korea Minister for Trade Hyun-chong Kim. The Administration has also reached agreements in principle with Argentina, Australia, and Brazil with respect to steel and aluminum, the details of which will be finalized shortly. The Administration is also extending negotiations with Canada, Mexico, and the European Union for a final 30 days. In all of these negotiations, the Administration is focused on quotas that will restrain imports, prevent transshipment, and protect the national security.

These agreements underscore the Trump Administration's successful strategy to reach fair outcomes with allies to protect our national security and address global challenges to the steel and aluminum industries.

—CNBC's Lori Ann LaRocco and Kayla Tausche contributed to this report.