France hopes to renew exemption of European Union goods from Trump's tariffs

Liu He China's vice premier

Liu He China's vice premier

Mnuchin's comments were similar to those of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who said late Saturday that the White House will announce its decision on tariffs right before the May 1 deadline. China has been the main focus of the tariffs; the U.S. has a $502tn trade deficit with the state.

In March, Trump imposed duties of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum.

With the new USA tariffs on European steel and aluminium exports due to come into force tomorrow, EU officials are making their final efforts to avoid a trade war. Trump has asked China to cut the gap by $100 billion and open up the Asian nation's markets to American products such as cars.

The European Union's trade commissioner is holding last-ditch talks with the U.S. today in a bid to gain permanent exemption from the Trump administration's tariffs on steel and aluminium imports.

Many companies are asking for exemptions specifically because they can not procure the amount of raw material they need from U.S. producers, according to filings. But over the weekend, Century Aluminum Co.

Trade ministers from the United States, Canada and Mexico met last week to advance talks on revising the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement and made enough progress that they have set their next ministerial meeting for May 7.

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That would seem to bode well for continued tariff exemptions for the two NAFTA partners.

However, the European Union has insisted it will not negotiate without first obtaining a permanent exemption. But both Mexico and Canada have resisted the idea of a quota.

The countdown is on to find out whether Canada will face steep US tariffs on steel and aluminum. Paris said afterwards they had agreed "the European Union must be ready to act" if Washington presses ahead with the tariffs.

The EU's draft list of USA imports that could be slapped by tit-for-tat tariffs amounts to €2.8 billion ($3.4 billion), a lot less than the €6.4 billion worth of steel and aluminum that the bloc exported to the United States in 2017. Some 3,500 exclusion requests have yet to be reviewed, while about 550 had been processed as of April 27, according to the department.

The Commerce Department said nearly all of the exclusion submissions yet to be reviewed were received within the last 12 days, and that a third of the requests have come from just 10 firms.

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