Trump leaves NZ out of US tariff exemption, a move which 'belies our positive bilateral relationship' - David Parker



1 NEWS | Associated Press

The Trump Administration has left New Zealand out of temporary exemptions from steel and aluminum tariffs, a move which has left the NZ government "disappointed". 

The White House is accusing China of theft and the transfer of intellectual property.

Source: 1 NEWS

Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker released a statement yesterday, saying he was "concerned at the possible implications for our domestic producers.

"While our exports of steel and aluminum to the US are not large, they are important to the businesses and workers in those industries," Mr Parker wrote.

The White House's on-again, off-again tariffs are said to be heightening uncertainty for US companies that buy steel and aluminum and the foreign companies that supply them.

The US is seeking to use the tariff threat to pressure Canada and Mexico to rewrite the North American Free Trade Agreement. Among other things, Donald Trump wants to see more auto production moved to the United States.

Mr Parker said other countries left out of tariff exemptions, such as South Africa and Japan, considered the move as "extremely regrettable".

"We are seeking clarity from the US Administration on the way forward. As you know, the Prime Minister and I have already written to our US counterparts, and have directed officials to engage at all levels. I have also spoken to the US Ambassador to New Zealand," he said. 

"The omission of New Zealand from the list of exempted countries belies our positive bilateral relationship. New Zealand is a strong security and defence partner for the US, and we enjoy a healthy and balanced trade relationship."

Major American allies, from Europe to Canada and Mexico, are also signaling increasing resentment.

Delivering its second reprieve for steel and aluminum imports, the Trump administration late Monday (local time) postponed the tariffs that had been set to take effect today. But it decided to limit the delay to 30 days. After that, no one knows what the administration will do.

With the potential conflict only delayed, the European Union, which has vowed to slap tariffs on American bourbon, motorcycles, blue jeans and other goods if the US taxes its steel and aluminum, warned that it won't "negotiate under threat."

The delay comes just as the United States prepares for high-stakes trade talks with China this week over Beijing's efforts to challenge US technological dominance.

The rift with the EU and other allies stems from the Trump administration's decision in March to impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports. In doing so, it made the unusual claim that a dependence on imported metals posed a national security threat to the United States.

But it soon backed off, for a time. It granted the EU, Mexico and Canada exemptions from the tariffs that were to expire Tuesday before they were extended for a month at the last minute.

Separately, the United States has reached a deal with South Korea, which agreed to limit steel shipments to the US in exchange for being spared the tariffs. Some analysts suspect that the Trump trade team hopes to pressure the EU and others to accept quotas on their steel exports to the United States as the price for having the tariffs lifted.

Speaking Tuesday at the US Chamber of Commerce, US Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer avoided saying whether the administration would be willing to extend again the one-month delay in the tariffs. Lighthizer also said "we more or less have an agreement" to permanently exempt Argentina, Australia and Brazil from the metals tariffs.

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