President Donald Trump reiterated Thursday that he plans to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports but stressed that the U.S. would be “very flexible.”
Trump suggested during a Cabinet meeting that countries such as Canada, Mexico, and Australia could be exempt from the tariffs.
“We’re going to be very flexible,” Trump said. “At the same time, we have some friends and some enemies where we have been tremendously taken advantage of over the years.”
The comments from Trump come as he due to sign a formal proclamation on the tariffs at a White House meeting with steel and aluminum industry workers at 3:30 pm ET.
Details of the policy are reportedly still being finalized, and a White House official told NBC News the proclamation would largely be “symbolic.”
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.
Trump asserted Thursday he would have the “right to go up or down depending on the country” as well as the “right to drop out countries or add countries.”
The exemptions for Canada and Mexico would depend on the successful renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Trump said.
Trump also noted that the U.S. has “very close relationship” and a trade surplus with Australia, which he called a “long-term partner.”
The announcement of the tariffs raised concerns about retaliation by U.S. trade partners such as the European Union and China sparking a global trade war.
(Photo: Michael Vadon)