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US aluminum, steel tariffs likely by week's end, under legal review: Navarro

New York — Trump Administration officials on Sunday morning political talk shows in the US said that the 25% tariff on steel and 10% on aluminum imports should be signed and in place by the end of this week -- with no country exclusions, but possible product exemptions.

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"So, the schedule is, these are going through legal review, Office of Legal Counsel, for form and legality," Peter Navarro, director, White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, told CBS' Face The Nation. "We expect probably by the end of the week, these will be signed."

Navarro also told CNN's State Of The Union: "There's a difference between exemptions and country exclusions. There will be an exemption procedure for particular cases where we need to have exemptions so that business can move forward, but at this point in time, there will be no country exclusions."

That exemption procedure leaves some wiggle room. Navarro also mentioned on Fox News Sunday that there would be a process by which companies can ask for a particular steel or aluminum product to be exempted from tariffs -- if US producers do not supply it.



The reason for taking a harder line on countries, Navarro explained, was that "as soon as he [President Trump] starts exempting countries, he has to raise the tariff on everybody else; as soon as he exempts one country, his phone starts ringing from the heads of state of other countries."

On the possibility of exceptions to the tariffs, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on NBC's Meet The Press: "We shall see ... The president makes the decisions."

Ross said that there had been some discussions with US trading partners subsequent to the tariff announcements.


AHEAD OF THE TARIFFS, SOME COMIC RELIEF


While the serious political shows Sunday morning in the US debated the subject of steel and aluminum tariffs, the popular comedy-sketch show Saturday Night Live beat them all to it.

For the first time ever, steel was fodder for laughs on the show, which has been airing more than 40 years.

Actor Alec Baldwin, impersonating President Trump, said: "I announced these steel and aluminum tariffs this week. People are going nuts about it. I've brought back the steel industry by destroying the auto industry and tanking the stock market. Impressive. Both sides hated it. I don't care."

Baldwin-as-Trump continued to mock the administration as dysfunctional: "I said I was going to run this country like a business. That business is a Waffle House at 2 am. Crazies everywhere, staff walking out in the middle of their shift, managers taking money out of the cash register to pay off the Russian mob."

--Joe Innace, joseph.innace@spglobal.com
--Tom Balcerek, tom.balcerek@spglobal.com
--Edited by E Shailaja Nair, shailaja.nair@spglobal.com