Leah Millis | Reuters
President Donald Trump holds up a proclamation during a White House ceremony to establish tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum at the White House in Washington, March 8, 2018.
In the space of a week, U.S. President Donald Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs went from a “no exemptions” plan to one filled with carve-outs for Canada and Mexico, and likely for other allies and hundreds of imported products not available domestically.
People familiar with the shift say Trump’s mind was changed by a furious last-ditch lobbying campaign from the Canadian government, Republican lawmakers, business groups and the United Steelworkers – the very union whose members stand to benefit most from the tariffs.
Trump said on Friday he was ready to work out an exception for Australia, while Japan, South Korea, the European Union and Brazil called for similar treatment.
The exemptions for Canada and Mexico, which are temporary, were also seen as being prompted part by the North American Free Trade Agreement talks, where U.S. negotiations could use the prospect of making them permanent as a bargaining chip.
“I have to think that the exclusion was probably also granted because we’re going to be a little more accommodating to them at the (NAFTA) negotiating table,” said Mark Warner, a Canadian trade lawyer.