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Report: EU said to be on track for exemption from US tariffs

The European Union is hoping it will be exempted from U.S. tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum, with an announcement confirming the EU's exclusion expected to come later in the day from U.S. President Donald Trump's administration, Bloomberg News reported, citing EU officials.

In March, Trump announced tariffs on steel and aluminum imports on national security grounds. The levies will not be imposed on Canada and Mexico, and further exemptions are to be finalized by March 23. Talks are underway to decide exemptions for Argentina, Australia and the European Union.

European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom concluded two days of negotiations with the U.S. with the hope of a waiver from import duties of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum, four EU officials told Bloomberg News. The U.S. government is linking a permanent exemption for Europe to the formation of a group tasked with securing a "quick and neat" deal on tariffs, including for goods such as cars, according to one of the EU officials.

The bloc had warned that a failure to a secure an exemption would lead to tariffs involving €2.8 billion worth of U.S. imports including Harley-Davidson Inc. motorcycles, Levi Strauss & Co. jeans and bourbon whiskey. It also threatened to submit a complaint against the U.S. with the World Trade Organization and initiate measures to keep metal shipments from other parts of the world to the U.S. from being diverted to the European market.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said March 21 that the U.S. could delay imposing the tariffs on some countries amid negotiations for a more permanent exclusion. Those waiver deliberations are intended to conclude by the end of April.

Meanwhile, Trump, who has repeatedly complained about the U.S.'s record $375 billion deficit with China, is expected to impose $50 billion in duties on Chinese products on March 22.

An op-ed from Chinese state-controlled English-language newspaper Global Times said there is a consensus in China to take "strong restrictive measures" against what it called the dumping of subsidized soybeans by the U.S. on the Chinese market. The op-ed claimed that the U.S. violates World Trade Organization rules by heavily subsidizing U.S. soybeans.

An editor of Global Times said March 20 that China will target American soybeans worth more than $10 billion that are sold each year to China if Trump imposes tariffs on Chinese exports.