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.