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Countries have 15 days before the tariffs become law to pursue an exemption. Canada and Mexico have already criticized the threats and are not changing their stance in the face of USA ultimatums on contentious issues, such as rules of origin.

"While we hope that Australia will win exemptions from the latest steel and aluminium tariffs, this would be only a partial victory".

Trump drew on rarely-used national security grounds to place a 25 percent tax on steel imports and 10 percent tax on imported aluminum. It's not like American producers will keep prices where they are and simply manufacture more steel to make up for the lost imports.

"If this action takes effect, it would inevitably deal a serious blow to South Korea's steel exports to the U.S". The Republican president surprised lawmakers in his own party in announcing the tariffs, which triggered the resignation of a top economic aide and drew the ire of global partners who vowed retaliation.

In Brussels, European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen said the EU has told the USA that tariffs were a bad idea. "It's been an assault", Trump said at the White House. In negotiations, he may want to draw out concessions, such as correcting trade imbalances.

"There may be people that are harmed less, maybe America is in a better position, but I think there's so much collateral damage, I think it's a risky and unsafe strategy".

Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist for Cox Automotive, said Thursday that the tariff plan appears to lack a clear, long-term direction for trade strategy and poses "a big problem for the automotive industry". Workers employed by US steel and aluminum manufacturers attended the event.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Thursday that a trade war with the U.S.

But Ryan Jordan, president of RJ Steel in Windsor, said he's anxious about Trump's definition of "fair", adding he doesn't expect the already high prices he's paying to go down anytime soon. He says Canada and Mexico could be exempted based on the outcome of talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

"Our industries have been targeted for years and years-decades, in fact-by unfair foreign trade practices leading to shuttered plants and mills, the laying off of millions of workers and the decimation of entire communities", Trump said. Today he has linked steel and aluminum to national security.

"We will urge the global community to refrain from adopting measures that inhibit free trade", said the Korean minister, Paik Un-gyu, at an emergency meeting, according to a ministry statement.

Those briefed on the plans say all countries affected by the tariffs are being invited to negotiate for exemptions, if they can address the threat their exports pose to the US.

The spokesman sharply criticised the imposition of punitive tariffs by the U.S. and said European producers would suffer "significantly from the loss of one of their most important export markets".