Trump orders tariffs on steel and aluminum

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"The reality is that the real friends are going to be those who are willing to partner with us on national security issues and also look to make sure there is free and fair and reciprocal trade", White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short said in an interview on Bloomberg TV on Friday.

Trump today signed two proclamations that impose 25 per cent tariff on imported steel and 10 per cent on aluminium.

"We are not looking to get into trade wars".

"These measures could make a significant impact on the economic and cooperative relationship between Japan and the U.S., who are allies", said Taro Kono, Japan's trade minister, in a statement.

"There's been a lot of, in my judgment, hair-on-fire rhetoric on the television from the lobbyists and the politicians and the swamp creatures within the perimeter of the Beltway - and in my judgment, this is all fake news", the official said.

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Australia, which sends more than $US400 million of steel and aluminium to the USA each year, is also hoping for an exemption.

Nations can apply for exemptions, something Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop - who is in the United States this week, said Australia will do.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), in a speech delivered on the Senate floor, said Trump should "rethink these tariffs and focus his policy more directly at China and countries that ship cheap Chinese steel to the U.S". "There are only losers in trade war", Le Maire tweeted Thursday.

The White House said the tariff proclamations will allow other countries to discuss with the administration "alternative ways" to address the national security threat caused by their steel and aluminum exports to the United States, the official said.

Australia, Brazil, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Mexico and South Korea were clamoring for exemptions from the tariffs before they were signed, but the White House has offered initial exemptions for only Canada and Mexico.

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People briefed on the plans ahead of the announcement said all countries affected by the tariffs would be invited to negotiate with the administration to be exempted from the tariffs if they can address the threat their exports pose to US manufacturers.

"If you exempt Canada, then you have to put big tariffs on everybody else", Navarro told CNN.

Canada and Mexico were given specific exemptions from the tariffs for an indefinite period while negotiations continue on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

"A strong steel and aluminum industry are vital to our national security, absolutely vital", he said. Administration officials said with more than 90 percent of aluminum used in USA industry coming from foreign markets, the domestic industry is near extinction.

"We'll be doing something with them", the president was quoted as having said during a Cabinet meeting.

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