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Trump said early on Thursday morning that he will hold an afternoon meeting at the White House related to the tariffs.

The request to Beijing comes amid a heated global debate on trade policy after Trump announced a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports last Thursday.

"Undoubtedly, the resulting higher steel and aluminum prices are clearly nothing more than a tax on the American people".

Trump said a strong steel and aluminium industry are vital to United States national security.

Railroad tracks run past the blast furnaces of the now-closed Bethlehem Steel mill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, April 21, 2016. During the event at the White House, however, Trump said that the two countries would be indefinitely exempted while negotiations continue regarding the North American Free Trade Agreement.

That country supplies less than 5 percent of the steel and about 10 percent of the aluminum that the United States imports.

The senior administration official lambasted critics of the president's tariffs saying, "Nobody inside the beltway should express any sort of surprise".

The tariffs will go into effect in 15 days and include exemptions for Canada and Mexico.

More than a hundred Republican lawmakers - many of them Trump supporters - sent the president a letter on Thursday urging him to reconsider.

Mr Trump said the tariff hikes ordered on Thursday were needed to protect United States national security by ensuring the survival of the country's metals producers.

The government will push for an exemption to newly-announced USA tariffs on steel and aluminium, the Finance Minister says.

Trump today imposed heavy tariffs on imported steel and aluminium which he said were necessary to boost the U.S. industry suffering from "unfair" business practices, a move that has sparked fears of a global trade war.

"In smaller cities where export-heavy manufacturing can dwarf other sectors, a shift in the pace of exports creates greater potential for economic disruption and credit deterioration", S&P said without naming any cities.

The European Union on Wednesday detailed a list of US-made goods that it would subject to reciprocal tariffs if Trump follows through with his plan.

Presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway said Thursday on the Fox News Channel that 'the president has called a meeting today at 3:30. He added that NAFTA was an important part of the US-Canada-Mexico security relationship.

"By these tariffs going into place, it gives us the ability to come back to 100 percent capacity", said one steel worker from Kentucky.

The US President said the stage for the imposition of reciprocal tax has been set in the first year of his administration.

Trump's sudden push for the tariffs last week triggered fears of a global trade war and rattled financial markets.

Bains said applying the tariffs would ultimately not be in the best interest of the U.S. At the same time, the number of workers in the steel industry has fallen off, so the real decline in the USA steel industry employment may be from technology and productivity gains, rather than foreign steel.