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EU seeks permanent exemption from US metals tariffs

Brussels

THE European Union's executive arm demanded a permanent exemption on Tuesday from US steel and aluminium tariffs, saying that US President Donald Trump's decision not to impose such barriers for now prolonged business uncertainty.

The White House announced on Monday that Mr Trump had extended a temporary reprieve from the tariffs for the EU, Canada and Mexico until June 1, just hours before they were due to come into force. He also reached agreements for permanent exemptions for Argentina, Australia and Brazil, it said.

On Tuesday, Mr Trump tweeted on trade: "...it will all get done. Great Potential for USA!"

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The European Commission, which coordinates trade policy for the 28 EU members, acknowledged Mr Trump's decision but said the bloc should be permanently exempted from the tariffs since it was not the cause of overcapacity in steel and aluminium.

"The US decision prolongs market uncertainty, which is already affecting business decisions," the Commission said.

Mr Trump has invoked a 1962 trade law to erect protections for US steel and aluminium producers on national security grounds, amid a worldwide glut of both metals that is largely blamed on excess production in China.

Germany, whose trade surplus has attracted criticism from Mr Trump, said it expected a permanent exemption.

"I am firmly convinced that in the interests of jobs in Germany, in Europe and in the USA, we need a long-term provision and that raising tariffs is the wrong way," German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said, urging more talks with Washington.

"We need fewer, not more duties in global trade," he said.

France said it agreed there was overcapacity in the steel and aluminium industries but said the EU was not to blame and should be exempted permanently from the tariffs so the overcapacity issue could be addressed in talks.

"We are ready to work with the USA and other partners to deal with those issues, and to develop fast and appropriate solutions," the French finance and foreign ministries said. REUTERS