President Donald Trump has added to confusion about the timing of his announcement of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports with a post on Twitter.
Trump tweeted Thursday morning that he is “looking forward” to a White House meeting with steel and aluminum industry workers at 3:30 pm ET.
“We have to protect & build our Steel and Aluminum Industries while at the same time showing great flexibility and cooperation toward those that are real friends and treat us fairly on both trade and the military,” Trump added.
A report from CNN said White House aides were told to prepare for a signing ceremony at the meeting, although subsequent reports have said the details of the policy are still being finalized.
Trump could use the meeting as a backdrop to sign a largely “symbolic” proclamation, a White House official told NBC News.
The president announced last week that he plans to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports.
The announcement raised concerns about retaliation by U.S. trade partners such as the European Union and China, sparking a global trade war.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders suggested during a press briefing on Wednesday that Mexico and Canada could be exempt from the tariffs.
“There are potential carve-outs for Mexico and Canada based on national security, and possibly other countries, as well, based on that process,” Sanders said.
She added, “That would be a case-by-case and country-by-country basis, but it would be determined whether or not there is a national security exemption.”
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told Fox Business Network that Canada and Mexico would be temporarily exempt from the tariffs amid ongoing negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“Our good friends north and south of the border, Canada and Mexico, are going to be given an opportunity to negotiate a fair trade deal for NAFTA,” Navarro said. “If they get that, they won’t be receiving the tariffs.”
(Photo: Max Goldberg)