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Wilbur Ross says Trump will decide soon on steel and aluminum tariffs

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If the Trump administration decides to slap steel and aluminum tariffs on some allies, it will have to do so “very soon,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Tuesday.

On Monday, the White House said it extended the May 1 deadline for tariff exemptions on allies such as the European Union, Canada and Mexico for another 30 days. Ross said the White House has “no intention of protracted extensions” and wants to make a decision soon to curb alleged trade abuses.

“If we’re going to impose it, we’re going to have to do it pretty soon, or else people will start gaming the system,” the Commerce secretary told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” on Tuesday.

The U.S. and EU have held “potentially fruitful discussions,” and Ross said he hopes the entities can potentially avoid tariffs. The Trump administration has already permanently exempted South Korea from tariffs because the country agreed to quotas under a new trade deal. It could also exempt countries such as Argentina, Australia and Brazil due to a separate agreement to address trade practices.

Trump has contended international dumping of steel and aluminum has hurt American producers of the metals. He proposed the tariffs in part to follow through on campaign promises to crack down on what he calls unfair trade practices.

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Armin Laschet picked as new leader of Germany’s ruling CDU party 

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Candidate for the chairmanship of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union party, Armin Laschet, gestures as he takes part in a discussion at the party’s headquarters in Berlin on Jan. 8, 2021.

CHRISTIAN MANG / POOL / AFP) (Photo by CHRISTIAN MANG/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

FRANKFURT, Germany — Germany’s ruling CDU party picked Armin Laschet to be its new chairman on Saturday, possibly paving the way for him to replace Angela Merkel as chancellor at elections later this year. 

Laschet is currently the prime minister of Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia region, the most populous federal state in the country. He beat rival Friedrich Merz by 521 to 466 in a vote that was forced online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Born in 1961, he was first elected to the Bundestag (German Parliament) in 1994 and his election is seen as a continuation of Merkel’s policies, as he has pledged to keep the CDU firmly in the “middle of society.” 

With him as chairman, the CDU will likely stay on message and focus on more climate change policies and environmental topics. He has a strong Catholic background which brings him support from Christian circles within the party. 

He is a trained lawyer and also worked as a journalist at the time of German reunification between 1986 and 1991. He is seen as being very liberal and is popular with the immigrant community in his home state.

If he becomes the CDU’s candidate for chancellor at September’s elections, he could be open to various coalitions — power sharing is somewhat of a recent tradition in German politics.

He has floated the idea of a government alongside the liberals, the FDP, in a bid to win over parts of the business camp inside the CDU. But he is also seen as a natural fit for a coalition with the Greens too, as he is on good speaking terms with the party and favors environmental issues.

But the CDU’s candidate for chancellor will only be determined in the spring. And it’s not certain that the newly-elected chairman will automatically move into Merkel’s role. Markus Söder, the very popular Bavarian prime minister, and also Jens Spahn, the current health minister, may also join the race to lead Europe’s largest economy.

Merkel stepped down as leader of the CDU in 2018, and her replacement Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer quit in February 2020 after a series of communication mishaps exposed her as being too weak to lead the chancellery.

This is a breaking news story, please check back later for more.

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Biden heads into inauguration with a stock market tailwind

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Biden heads into inauguration with a stock market tailwind

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