China strongly opposes Trump's hefty tariffs on steel, aluminum imports

He said that other countries could be spared if they can convince the administration that their steel and aluminum exports don't threaten American industry.

In calmer language than seen last weekend, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said Friday that "dialogue is always the prime option of the European Union", adding that Brussels was "counting on being excluded" from the tariffs after Trump said close allies might be exempt.

The people 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 U.S.

On Thursday China's foreign minister, Wang Yi, vowed a "justified and necessary response" to any efforts to incite a trade war.

Amid the escalating row, European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi has voiced concern for the "state of global affairs".

Before the Trump administration's Section-232 investigation, dozens of anti-dumping and countervailing measures had been imposed on nearly all iron and steel products, with some tariffs already nearly prohibitively high.

"Many of the countries that treat us the worst on trade and the military are our allies", Trump said.

The commerce minister reiterated Premier Li Keqiang's promise last week to liberalize the manufacturing industry and expand the opening up of sectors such as medical care, education and new energy vehicles. The president, however, excluded two key United States trade allies - Mexico and Canada - and said it was possible for other nations to apply for exemptions, but failed to go into details of when and how that could happen.

He said the USA had raised concerns over South Korea's "transshipment" of Chinese steel, although the trade ministry had argued that only 2.5% of steel exported to the U.S. used Chinese material.

The US neighbour to the north was also by far the largest supplier of alumina and aluminium, followed by China, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.

The tariff plan has angered U.S. allies, including Canada, Mexico, Britain and members of the European Union, who argue that their exports to the United States do not pose a threat to USA national security.

Trump orders tariffs on steel, aluminum imports
The exemptions for US trading partners in North America are part of a broader negotiating strategy from Trump's administration. He described Australia as "a great country, a long-term partner" and said "we will be doing something with them".

Trade tensions between China and United States have risen since Trump took office.

The exemptions for Canada and Mexico could be ended if talks to renegotiate NAFTA stall, the White House said. He also added Australia to the list of likely carve-outs. China, Germany, Brazil, etc. specifically make steel to export - not for their own use.

Trump today imposed heavy tariffs on imported steel and aluminium which he said were necessary to boost the United States industry suffering from "unfair" business practices, a move that has sparked fears of a global trade war.

The decision-making process regarding the tariffs has evolved and more changes could be made before the president formally approves them. Although the USA president highlighted national security as a reason for the move. Right now, we're in a period of global expansion.

However Trump specifically mentioned NAFTA in his press conference announcing the exemptions on March 8.

Despite Trudeau's suggested prior to Trump's announcement that Canada would be exempt "because of the work we've been doing over the past week", it was lobbying by American states - particularly border ones - and Ontario, to Kathleen Wynne's credit, that undoubtedly did the most to bend Trump's ear.

With the mid-term congressional election in November, Mr Trump's move could give a boost to Republicans.

Trump's declaration coincided with the signing by 11 countries of a new Trans-Pacific trade pact that the United States withdrew from a year ago.

"These tariffs run counter to the progress we have made to raise wages and to create more jobs", Coffman said.

And European markets steadied in early trade.