Australia-US trade relationship an example: PM

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The US President Donald Trump announced that he is ready to lift customs duties on imports of steel and aluminum for European Union countries if they take similar measures to the US side.

The announcement of duties of 25 per cent on imported steel and 10 per cent on aluminium has stung the European Union and other major partners, coming as a surprise to allied countries and to many in Washington.

"This is very important for the thousands of people who rely on these industries for work", Turnbull tweeted.

Trump said the tariffs, which will come into effect 15 days after he formally unveiled them Thursday, will not initially apply to Canada and Mexico. Companies that export their metal products to Mexico and Canada were particularly fearful of tariff retaliation by those countries if they are not exempted. "We just want fairness", Mr. Trump said.

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She also says the tariff discussions and NAFTA negotiations are completely different, adding that, "We treat them on totally separate tracks".

Earlier Mr Turnbull had ruled out Australia joining an worldwide revolt against the steel tariff or a 10 per cent tariff on aluminium. "We are going to be doing a lot of that". Ben Sasse of Nebraska said, "Trade wars are lost by both sides".

"Thank you for confirming new tariffs won't have to be imposed on Australian steel & aluminum - good for jobs in Australia and in USA!" European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker responded with a list of threatened tariffs on U.S products, lamenting: "This is basically a stupid process". The E.U. has responded by threatening to increase tariffs on major US exports - namely Levi jeans, Jack Daniels whiskey and Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

The result is that even some of the U.S.'s closest trading partners are bewildered about where the announcement leaves them.

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"We have strong defence and security co-operation relationship as close allies in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, permanent members of the United Nations security council and nuclear powers".

Despite speculation that this could refer to activities such as so-called freedom-of-navigation operations - or "FONOPs" - in the South China Sea, such operations would not require any kind of agreement with the US.

The media drumbeat of condemnation of the tariffs on steel and aluminum announced by President Trump on Tuesday continued over the weekend as world leaders publicly denounced the policy.

Tariffs can be a powerful tool to address inequities by countries that are not playing by the rules.

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The government mounted a multi-pronged campaign to secure the exemptions on tariffs. However, an across-the-board action against all steel and aluminum imports such as Trump was proposing affects countries that are playing by the rules, and makes USA companies vulnerable to retaliation.

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