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US: EU, 6 other economies exempt from metals tariffs for now

[WASHINGTON] The European Union and six other economies will be exempt at least temporarily from the harsh steel and aluminium tariffs President Donald Trump has imposed, a top US trade official said Thursday.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told a Senate committee that Mr Trump authorised a "pause" in the imposition of the tariffs, which take effect Friday, while talks are underway to find a more permanent solution.

Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and South Korea will also be exempt from the penalties of 25 per cent on steel imports and 10 per cent on aluminium, along with the EU, he said.

Washington already had announced that major metals exporters Canada and Mexico would be exempt as talks continue to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement.

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And this week EU and US officials issued a joint statement saying they were working towards a solution to avoid tariffs on the trading bloc.

"The idea that the president has is that, based on a certain set of criteria, that some countries should get out," Mr Lighthizer said in testimony before the Senate Finance Committee.

"There are countries with whom we're negotiating" and there will be "a pause in imposition of tariffs with respect to those countries," he said.

Many countries, including the EU, have warned the White House that they will retaliate forcefully if they are face with tariffs on metals products.

The Trump administration has stressed that the primary target is China, which has long had massive overproduction that has impacted the global market for steel and aluminium, which poses a national security threat to the US economy.

AFP