Great uncertainty before the customs deadline expires with the United States

President Donald Trump./Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The United States will continue to exempt some countries from the new steel and aluminum tariffs, but not everyone, warns Trade Minister Wilbur Ross.

On Tuesday, May 1, the temporary exemptions granted by US President Donald Trump will expire when he imposed additional duties on imports of steel and aluminum.

US Trade Minister Wilbur Ross said in an interview with Bloomberg that Trump will continue to provide exemptions for some countries, but not for everyone. He does not reveal which countries are going to be exempted.

A final decision from Trump is expected at some point during  Monday 30th of April.

Contact at all levels
When the extra toll was introduced in March, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, South Korea and the 28 member states of the EU were granted temporary exceptions to allow for negotiations.

EU-US contacts have taken place “at all levels,” said EU commission spokesman Margarit Schinas when he met the press in Brussels on Monday afternoon.

He dared not predict the outcome.

“All I can say today is that we are patient, but prepared,” said Schinas.

Threatened with countermeasures
Last week, both France’s president Emmanuel Macron and German Prime Minister Angela Merkel were visiting Washington to meet Trump.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström spoke with Trade Minister Ross on Monday, according to German news agency DPA. It is not known what  the outcome of the conversation will be.

Malmström has repeatedly said that the EU will not negotiate under threats. Her claim is that the EU must have permanent exemptions from the extra toll before it can begin to negotiate with the United States.

At the same time, the EU is ready with countermeasures that can be adopted at short notice if EU member states lose their exception.

The EU threatens, among other things, to increase customs duties on a number of American brands, including cigarettes, Bourbon, peanut butter, cranberries and gravy.

Fearing trade war
Ross has, in turn, suggested that the United States requires duty-free quotas in exchange for extension of the exceptions. Trump has been particularly concerned with the EU’s import tariff on cars, which he believes is unreasonably high.

On the European side, the concern has been that the new tariffs can trigger a global trade war as new barriers are being put up.

Several countries have also appealed the extra toll to the World Trade Organization (WTO), because they believe it is in violation of the rules.

Norway in dialogue with the United States
Norway was not among the countries that got exemptions when the new customs duties were introduced, but have been in dialogue with the United States to try to join the list.

The US extra roll is 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum.

Only 0.2 percent of Norwegian steel and aluminum exports go to the United States. The concern has therefore been greater for other actors – and especially the EU –  responding to the new tariffs by introducing new customs barriers themselves. If it happens, Norway may in the worst case be hit much harder.


© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today