DONALD Trump has reneged on a promise he reportedly made to exempt Australia from import tariffs.

The US President sent global markets tumbling last week after he vowed to impose a 25 per cent tariff on steel imports and 10 per cent tariff on aluminium exports to protect US producers, sparking fears of a global trade war.

Australia, Canada and several European nations were hoping to be exempt from the rule, but White House trade adviser Peter Navarro confirmed on Sunday that the rule would be applied "across the board".

But it wasn't just a case of dashed optimism for Australia. The two countries reportedly came to an agreement last year that the Trump administration would specifically exempt us from its controversial new plan.

According to the ABC, the US president "emphatically" promised Australia would be exempt from the tariffs while meeting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the Hamburg G20 meeting in July.

The conversation was witnessed by Finance Minister Mathias Cormann and Deputy Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet David Gruen, as well as members of Mr Trump's administration.

Donald Trump allegedly said Australia would be exempt from import tariffs.
Donald Trump allegedly said Australia would be exempt from import tariffs.

Australia exports an estimated $274 million worth of steel and $276 million of aluminium to the US, which imports more than 36 million tonnes of steel and five million tonnes of aluminium a year.

Despite threats of retaliation from across the world - including senior members of his own party - Mr Trump confirmed on Monday the administration is "not backing down".

On Saturday, Trade Minister Steve Ciobo said details of the new imposts were still being worked out and that any exemptions would be a decision for Mr Trump. "I'm not going to provide a commentary on the Trump administration's trustworthiness," Mr Ciobo said.

Mr Ciobo will join his counterparts from 10 countries for the trans-Pacific Partnership signing ceremony in Chile on Thursday and expects the US action to be discussed on the sidelines.

Former Foreign Minister Bob Carr tweeted yesterday that he believes Australia will be exempt from the hikes

The European Union is said to be preparing retaliatory measures.

 

- with AP


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