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Kallanish Kallanish

Knowledge matters Knowledge matters

December, 17th 2018

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MAR 12

Australia negotiates US tariff exemption, but terms unclear


Australia may secure an exemption to US steel tariffs but there remains some confusion as to the terms. BlueScope Steel has asked the Australian government to lobby for an exemption, but could also stand to gain from the tariffs, Kallanish notes.

On Friday, US president Donald Trump said, in a tweet, naturally, that his administration was, “…working very quickly on a security agreement so we don’t have to impose steel or aluminium tariffs on our ally, the great nation of Australia!”

On Monday however, Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull said the exemption did not rest on a new security agreement. “I had the conversation with him, so I know what was discussed, and there is no request for any change or addition to our security arrangements,” he told the Australian press. Turnbull also said he would not join any moves by the European Union to bring a complaint to the World Trade Organisation over the tariffs.

So far, only Mexico and Canada have confirmed exemptions to the new 25% tariffs in any official proclamation, and those only on a short-term basis as Nafta negotiations are ongoing. The White House is reportedly still drawing up the legal paperwork for an executive order that would bring the tariffs into effect.

Australia’s BlueScope has expressed concern that US tariffs would impact one part of its operations there. The company ships steel to the US for distribution. The group also produces steel in the US, however, at its North Star subsidiary. The company would stand to gain from both the duties and the exemption to those duties at its two US arms.