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Report: US mulled tariffs on Australia amid rise in aluminum imports


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Report: US mulled tariffs on Australia amid rise in aluminum imports

The U.S. government had looked into imposing tariffs on Australian goods amid concerns of increasing aluminum imports from the country but later decided against doing so following opposition from officials at the State and Defense departments, The New York Times reported, citing several people familiar with the discussions.

Australian aluminum imports have risen over the past year after Washington in 2018 imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum products from several countries on national security concerns, but fully exempted Australia from such duties, according to the June 2 report. Australia accounted for 6% of aluminum materials imported into the U.S. in the first three months of 2019, behind the United Arab Emirates and Canada, data from the U.S. Geological Survey showed.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Peter Navarro, director of the White House's Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, had supported imposing tariffs on Australian goods, the Times reported. But the Trump administration decided not to proceed with such an action, at least temporarily, after officials from the Pentagon and the State Department warned that tariffs would alienate a key ally.

Responding to the Times report, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australian aluminum exporters are adhering to the terms of a deal with the U.S., Reuters wrote.

"We have an arrangement with the U.S. and we are working within that arrangement," Morrison reportedly said.

Meanwhile, when asked about the report, Trump said the U.S. is "doing a very special relationship with Australia," according to Bloomberg News.

The update comes after the U.S., Canada and Mexico decided to drop tariffs on metals, which, according to analysts, would hurt domestic operations within the U.S.

In the same week that the U.S. considered tariffs on Australia, Washington announced the imposition of tariffs on all goods from Mexico, along with slapping tariffs on certain products from China and Germany, and terminating India's special trade partner status.