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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday that U.S. tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum imports will stay in place even as the Trump administration suspends separate proposed tariffs on Chinese goods.
The framework of a deal that emerged from trade talks in Washington last week only involves holding off on up to $150 billion in potential tariffs on technology and other products, Mnuchin told a Senate panel.
"As it relates to China, the steel and aluminium tariffs will remain enforced," he said. "Those were not part of our discussions. We were merely focused on the proposed $150 billion."
"Those are not being touched," he added.
Mnuchin emerged from the talks saying Washington and Beijing had put a potential trade war "on hold," although top Trump administration officials have given few concrete details about a final trade pact. The world's two largest economies are holding talks as they try to avoid a potentially damaging escalation in tariffs.
President Donald Trump has long pledged to crack down on alleged trade abuses by foreign countries, and he has consistently placed China at the top of his target list. But the administration appears to be separating steel and aluminum tariffs from other measures specific to China. Trump has specifically targeted alleged intellectual property theft by Chinese companies and China's massive trade surplus with the U.S.
Earlier this year, the president imposed tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum imports. The U.S. has temporarily exempted Canada, Mexico and the European Union as it tries to reach separate terms with those entities.