USA working to spare Australia from steel, aluminium tariffs

Malcolm Turnbull has warned the US off its plan to impose hefty new tariffs on Australia

Turnbull told a news conference in South Australia state his discussions with Trump included the ongoing threats from North Korea after the USA president opened the possibility of talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

According to the report, Australian Ambassador to Washington Joe Hockey, called Norman on behalf of Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, to give Turnbull Trump's personal cell phone number.

The United States and Australia are working on a "security agreement" that would allow Australia to escape steel and aluminum tariffs set to kick in on March 23, President Trump said on Friday.

When the President announced his tariffs, only Canada and Mexico were given exemptions - other countries would have to apply, he said.

Bishop also reported that she had contacted several NY businessmen who are close to the Trump empire, to lobby against Trump's steel tariffs.

"Working very quickly on a security agreement so we don't have to impose steel".

"Australia will be among the biggest losers from a U.S. inspired rise in global protectionism", he said.

"Spoke to Malcolm Turnbull of Australia".

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Former prime minister Kevin Rudd said on Saturday he was also concerned about a global tit-for-tat, taking issue with Mr Trump's belief that trade wars are good.

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

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a TV interview on Friday that he expects there may be some other countries that will qualify for an exemption.

"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.

West Australian Premier Mark McGowan said he believed Mr Trump's actions could still have some unforeseen and wide-ranging consequences, given his state exports iron ore to countries like China and Japan.

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

But Australian Industry Group Chief Executive Innes Willox said the tariff announcement would still hurt companies even if an exemption was granted.

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