Thur. 4:25 p.m.: Trump imposes steel tariffs but excludes Canada and Mexico

After a week of hints and uncertainty, President Donald Trump today said he would announce tariffs on imported steel and aluminum but with temporary exemptions for Canada and Mexico as he seeks to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement. He suggested Australia and “other countries” might also be spared, a shift that could soften the international blow amid threats of retaliation by trading partners.

Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum imports will take effect in 15 days, with Canada and Mexico indefinitely exempted from the duties, according to people outside the White House who were briefed on the plans Thursday. The people spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the president’s signing of the orders.

“We’re going to be very fair, we’re going to be very flexible but we’re going to protect the American worker as I said I would do in my campaign,” Trump said during a Cabinet meeting.

The president reiterated that he would levy tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum but would “have a right to go up or down depending on the country and I’ll have a right to drop out countries or add countries. I just want fairness.”

The president indicated Canada and Mexico’s treatment would be connected to the ongoing NAFTA talks, which are expected to resume in early April.