Trump Trade War - US likely to extend steel and aluminum tariff exemptions

President Trump is seeking to use the tariff threat to pressure Canada and Mexico to rewrite the North American Free Trade Agreement more to his liking

The European Union's trade commissioner is holding last-ditch talks with the USA today in a bid to gain permanent exemption from the Trump administration's tariffs on steel and aluminium imports.

Mr Trump granted the European Union temporary relief from the 25 per cent steel and 10 per cent aluminium duties, but this expires today and can not be renewed.

U.S. and Chinese officials will hold highly anticipated trade talks in China on Thursday and Friday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox Business Network, saying he was "cautiously optimistic" about the meeting.

But Brussels has vowed to retaliate if it faces tariffs by putting punitive duties on American products ranging from industrial and agricultural items to flagship products such as jeans and motorbikes, peanut butter and bourbon.

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"We had an exchange of views on the current state of affairs on the negotiations.and the decision lies with the president", she said at a White House press conference.

May 1, International Labor Day, is going to be busy for the European Commission in Brussels, as the US's tariffs exemption on EU steel and aluminum is set to expire at midnight eastern time in the US.

If Trump does decide to impose tariffs, the European Union would react as a unit "in light of the developments in the coming days and weeks", Altmaier said.

The Trump administration has justified the tariffs on national security grounds.

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Mr Ross said the decision will be announced right before the deadline today. The White House, the Commerce Department and the National Security Council did not respond to requests for comment before publication. South Korea also won a temporary exemption, which eventually became a long-term exemption after the progression of talks on the U.S. -Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS).

Companies are asking for relief from 25 per cent tariffs on steel imports and 10 per cent on aluminium.

"President Trump has been very clear for the a year ago that he's very focused on the trade deficit and we're looking to correct that", Mr Mnuchin said in the Fox Business interview.

Separately, Mr Trump had proposed tariffs on US$150 million worth of Chinese goods in response to the theft of intellectual property, prompting threats of retaliation from China.

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