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Trump downplays chance of tariffs on Australia after NYT report
[WASHINGTON] President Donald Trump downplayed the chance he would impose tariffs on Australia, a top US ally, after the New York Times reported his administration considered doing so last week.
Asked about the report on Sunday before a visit to the UK, Mr Trump said the US had very strong ties with Australia, without directly mentioning tariffs.
"The Australian situation is interesting but the relationship is very strong," Mr Trump told reporters at the White House. "No, we're doing a very special relationship with Australia."
Some of Mr Trump's top trade advisers had urged tariffs on Australia to stem a surge of aluminum from the country over the past year, the New York Times reported, citing people familiar with the discussions. The administration at least temporarily decided not to take action after objections from officials at the Defense and State Departments, the report said.
As a close security ally of the US and the most China-dependent economy in the developed world, Australia's US$1.3 trillion economy already had a lot to lose as the world's two biggest trading nations lock horns. China buys 35 per cent of Australian exports, equivalent to about 8 per cent of gross domestic product, and dominates iron ore shipments and education.
The prospect of the US targeting Australian trade has received little analysis. The two fought together in every major war in the 20th century, and the US is a major investor in Australia, although their trade relationship isn't particularly significant.