Flames rise from molten aluminum in a molding unit at the Alumetal Group Hungary Kft. aluminium processing plant in Komarom, Hungary on Monday, March 19, 2018. The European Union believes it’s on track to be exempted from imminent U.S. tariffs on foreign steel and aluminium, dialling down the risk of a trans-Atlantic trade war. Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg  

Trump's Tariff Relief Comes Down to Wire as May 1 Deadline Looms

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump hasn’t decided whether to extend allied nations relief from U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, even though temporary exemptions are set to expire in less than 24 hours.

“The president has not made any decision yet,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox Business Network in an interview that aired Monday, when asked about extending exemptions to trading partners. “We’ve been having lots of discussions internally, we’ve been having lots of discussions with our counterparts,” he said, adding: “We’re addressing these issues real time.”

Mnuchin’s comments were similar to those of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who said late Saturday that the White House will announce its decision on tariffs right before the May 1 deadline.

Trump last month imposed 25 percent tariffs on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum. But he walked back from an earlier no-exemptions stance to give Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, the European Union, Mexico and South Korea a temporary reprieve when the tariffs took effect, and directed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to handle negotiations with countries seeking exemptions.

So far, South Korea is the only nation to be spared from the duties, though nations including France and Germany have pushed to be excluded.

“The president gave us time to address these issues and the president is going to make a decision,” Mnuchin said. “I expect that there will be a decision quickly.”

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.