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US exempts Mexico from steel tariffs in exchange for fair NAFTA, Mexico says it won’t be pressured

Mexico City, Mexico — US president Trump imposed his steel and aluminum tariffas, temporarily exempting Canada and Mexico.

The news comes after the tariffs were put into effect Thursday with the president saying that both countries will remain exempt only if a fair NAFTA deal is reached.

“If we do not reach an agreement, if we fail to renegotiate NAFTA, a fair treaty, then we will terminate the treaty (…) If we do renegotiate it, we will impose these tariffs on Canada and Mexico,” he said during his message at the White House.

Import tariffs are 25 percent for steel and 10 percent for aluminum. The measures will take effect within 15 to 30 days.

The Secretary of Economy, Ildefonso Guajardo, mentioned that the Mexican government would not allow the tariffs to press the renegotiation of the commercial pact.

“We will not let that have any correlation and under no circumstances will be subjected to any kind of pressure,” he said.

The US president explained that the tariff measures are carried out due to the alleged unfair trade competition, which affects the US steel and aluminum industries.

“Today I am defending American national security by placing tariffs on foreign imports of steel and aluminum (…) The steel and aluminum industries are of fundamental importance for national security, if you do not have steel, you have no country,” he said.

Trump detailed during his message that companies wishing to manufacture in US territory will not pay this fee.

“Here we are not going to price products manufactured in the American Union. If other countries want to bring (their companies), fees will not be imposed here,” he said.

Hours before the announcement, opponents of tariffs pleaded to soften the effect.

White House officials said they were still working on the details of the president’s plan. That team has tried to see how they could establish certain national security clauses to lessen the economic effects of those measures.

The process of announcing the increases was the subject of intense debate and chaotic discussions within the White House, pitting hardline officials against free trade advocates, such as outgoing economic adviser Gary Cohn, who favor greater flexibility for United States business partners.

The fight over tariffs comes amid intense turmoil in the White House where there have been a series of resignations and negative stories that have left the president more isolated in the Oval Office, according to two senior officials. They spoke on condition of anonymity to talk about internal discussions.

The US president said hours before the announcement that he was waiting for the time to meet with his guests.

“We have to protect and build our steel and aluminum industries, while at the same time, show great flexibility and cooperation towards those who are true friends and treat us fairly in both commercial and military matters,” he posted on his Twitter account.