Hopes Raised Over Steel Tariffs

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While announcing the details of the tariffs in Washington, Mr Trump singled out Australia when he said countries with good trade and military relationships with the United States may be exempt.

Australia has been hopeful of wrapping up a deal to avoid the tariffs announced by Mr Trump on Friday, which are due to come into force in a fortnight.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has revealed the country to be exempted from United States tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

"Thank you for confirming new tariffs won't have to be imposed on Australian steel & aluminum - good for jobs in Australia and in USA!"

The Trump administration's rollout of new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports has left countries confused about whether they can win exemptions, but Australia seems to have accomplished it with a phone call from the country's prime minister to President Trump.

As is his way, Mr Trump first hinted at the tariff exemption in a Twitter post confirming the pair had spoken on Saturday.

"Spoke to Malcolm Turnbull of Australia".

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The meeting, which was planned before Trump's Thursday trade announcement, was Europe and Japan's first chance to press their case for an exemption to the tariffs.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the US wants to negotiate exemptions for the tariffs before they take effect in two weeks, as pressure grows from allies who are threatening retaliation if the duties are applied to them.

He said the threat of Australia sustaining collateral damage in a trade war also remained real.

"I had a frank discussion with the United States side about the serious pending issue of steel/aluminum tariffs, " the top European Union trade official, Cecilia Malmström, wrote on Twitter after the meeting.

"History tells us they are bad, and they end up causing not just a contraction in global trade but, as a result of that, a contraction in global growth", he told ABC on Saturday.

Despite being one of the world's largest suppliers of raw commodity, iron ore, Australia is a small global exporter of steel.

Australian steel and aluminium to the United States were worth just over $400 million past year.