Washington: The US on Tuesday postponed until June 1 the imposition of steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada, the European Union and Mexico, avoiding for the time being a major trade skirmish with trading partners.
The delay will give Trump administration officials more time to work out deals with the EU and Mexico and Canada to address the U.S. National security concerns the administration cited for imposing the tariffs.
President Donald Trump has signed a proclamation to delay the implementation of tarriffs.
The administration has also reached a final agreement with South Korea on steel imports, the outlines of which were previously announced by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Republic of Korea Minister for Trade Hyun-chong Kim, the White House said in a statement.
The administration has also reached agreements in principle with Argentina, Australia, and Brazil with respect to steel and aluminium, the details of which will be finalised shortly, it said.
Trump in March decided to slap tariffs of 25 per cent on imported steel and 10 per cent on imported aluminium. He justified the action by saying it was needed to protect American metal producers from unfair competition and bolster national security.
As per the proclamation, the administration is also extending negotiations with Canada, Mexico, and the European Union for a final 30 days.
In all of these negotiations, the administration is focused on quotas that will restrain imports, prevent transshipment, and protect the national security, the White House said.
"These agreements underscore the Trump administration's successful strategy to reach fair outcomes with allies to protect our national security and address global challenges to the steel and aluminium industries," the White House said.
According to The Wall Street Journal, top trade officials of the Trump administration met with the US president today to decide on a course of action as a self-imposed midnight deadline approached, with some allies uncertain until the last minute about which direction the US would choose.
Canada and Mexico, which have repeatedly said they expect a permanent exemption from the tariffs, were not given any guarantees despite weeks of recent negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Talks on the NAFTA, which have been ongoing for the past month in Washington, will resume on May 7.
Trade leaders in Mexico and Canada have rejected Trump's attempts to tie their tariff treatment to the outcome of the massive trade agreement.
The EU, which has been a vocal critic of the tariffs, has threatened USD 3.5 billion in retaliatory tariffs on jeans, motorcycles and orange juice if Trump follows through with metals tariffs.
Two European leaders ? French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel ? lobbied Trump to reconsider the tariffs during trips to Washington last week but received no public guarantee.