European Union trade chief makes final bid to ward off U.S. tariffs

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday that any move by the United States to impose tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum would be a "very bad idea" guaranteed to disrupt trade between the two countries.

Cecilia Malmström, the European commissioner for trade, is due to speak to the USA commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, later on Monday, but EU sources said they fear the White House is set to continue to make impossible demands.

U.S. President Donald Trump imposed sweeping tariffs in March of 25 per cent on steel imports and 10 per cent on aluminum, but granted temporary exemptions to certain countries.

So far, South Korea is the only nation to be spared from the duties after reaching a deal to revise its bilateral free trade agreement with the USA, which was already under way.

"The president has not made any decision yet", Mnuchin said during an interview on Fox Business. "I expect that there will be a decision quickly".

President Donald Trump will decide by midnight Monday if the USA will slap permanent aluminum and steel tariffs on the European Union.

May's office said in a statement after the prime minister's Sunday call with Merkel that they and Macron "pledged to continue to work closely with the rest of the European Union and the us administration with the aim of a permanent exemption from USA tariffs". China has been the main focus of the tariffs; the USA has a $502tn trade deficit with the state.

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The Treasury secretary will lead the U.S. trade delegation in China this week.

The US Aluminum Association last week sent a letter asking Trump to grant exemptions to all "responsible" trade partners.

The steel threat has complicated talks with Canada and Mexico on a revised North American Free Trade Agreement.

The leaders agreed to work with the rest of the European Union and the Trump administration to secure permanent exemptions, according to the a readout from May's office.

Most administration officials are pushing for Trump to at least extend the exemptions to continue talks on trade remedies, Jonathan Swan of the news website Axios reported.

"We are asking of everyone quotas if there isn't a tariff", Ross said. The US Commerce Department is wrestling with a flood of requests from companies to exclude products from the steel and aluminum duties, creating a backlog that's sparked calls for action from lawmakers and trade groups. No decision on a request can be made until it's been reviewed and posted online for 30 days for any objections.

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