A White House spokesperson and two members of U.S. President Donald Trump’s cabinet suggested Wednesday that Canada and Mexico might escape new tariffs on steel and aluminum. White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Canada and Mexico might get a “carve-out” for reasons of national security, and she said other allies might also ask for one, on a case-by-case basis.
Earlier Wednesday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told reporters that Trump has “indicated a degree of flexibility.”
“If we can work something out with Canada and Mexico they will be exempted. It’s not inconceivable that others could be exempted on a similar basis,” Ross said.
The formal tariff announcement is expected Thursday afternoon. Hawkish White House trade adviser Peter Navarro suggested the exemption would come with a catch. He told Fox Business Channel that, at 3:30 p.m. ET, surrounded by steelworkers in the Oval Office, Trump will sign proclamations that impose tariffs that kick in within 15 to 30 days on most countries.
He suggested tariffs could still hit Canada and Mexico later: “The proclamation will have a clause that does not impose these tariffs immediately, on Canada and Mexico. It’s going to give us the opportunity to negotiate a great [NAFTA] deal for this country. And if we get that, all’s good with Canada and Mexico.”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the administration was “definitely going to end up” with the across-the-board tariffs Trump is seeking — 25 per cent on steel imports, 10 per cent on aluminum. “But, again, there will be a mechanism where, to the extent that the president wants to give waivers, the president can do that,” he told Fox Business.