Mnuchin: US in talks with countries seeking tariff exemptions

The most significant effects of a NAFTA collapse would be on motor vehicle and parts exports to the U.S

Rim countries without USA involvement, a deal that will permit, among other things, more foreign auto imports into Canada - which has already infuriated US automakers and Canada's auto workers.

Mnuchin said that countries beyond Mexico and Canada could be added to the exemptions list before tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum go into effect within the next couple of weeks.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday that President Donald Trump could exempt more countries from stiff trade tariffs he just signed on steel and aluminum imports. Both the European Union and China have said they would retaliate against action by the United States, as have Mexico and Canada.

The actual formal documents specifically state that Canada and Mexico are a special case, given the continent's shared commitment to mutual security, an integrated defence industry and the shared fight against dumped steel and that the best way to address US concerns - "at least at this time" - is by continuing discussions.

He said those exclusions would apply because "we can't make that product or there are national security issues".

Mnuchin brushed off economic concerns about the tariffs, which are being imposed over national security concerns.

The U.S. Commerce Department is due to release regulations for the tariffs within 10 days.

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The exemption isn't a big positive for Canada, said Doug Porter, chief economist at BMO Capital Markets.

The tariffs were aimed at China, which has been dumping cheap, subsidized steel into the US and undercutting American producers who have been forced to slash production and jobs.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has said nothing was firm, while the Canadian and Mexican ministers publicly capped the last round by saying they're looking forward to April talks in Washington.

Speaking before Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there was a "level of confidence" that the country's close relationship with the United States will protect it from USA tariffs.

"This work continues and it will continue until the prospect of these duties is fully and permanently lifted". So far, the Trump administration has loosely tied the exemptions to negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement and said a failure to renegotiate it could end the special treatment.

"The U.S. would be in the position of having to eliminate the tariffs, or they could ignore the WTO ruling", Ries said.

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