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Mere hours before temporary exemptions for certain US allies were set to expire, the Trump administration Monday postponed new, wide-reaching import tariffs on aluminum and steel used in new cars.

Mr. Lopes said the quotas being offered by the United States in lieu of tariffs would mean a 7.4 percent reduction in the exports of semi-finished steel products and a drop of between 20 percent and 60 percent in exports of finished goods, depending on the product.

Trump has dangled a permanent exemption as incentive to reach a tentative Nafta deal with Mexico and Canada, though talks continue with no immediate agreement in sight.

Lee, Schwartz, Hannas reported this story for VOA News. "But we must avoid escalation - a trade war would be a losing situation for everyone".

President Donald Trump has not yet confirmed an extended waiver for the European Union or Australia. Pictured, a worker operates a furnace at a steel plant in Dalian, China.

"The Prime Minister and other ministers have been relentless in our advocacy for Australia and we will continue to ensure that we receive that exemption", she told the ABC on Monday, adding that Australian steel exports helped create United States jobs by being processed on arrival.

He said: "We will have quotas and other restrictions to make sure that we defend our industries in the interest of national security".

Lighthizer will be among senior members of the Trump administration traveling to China this week to discuss trade. He said that agreement "helps the Koreans because it stabilizes our relationship at a time when the president is doing something very historic" in promoting peace on the Korean Peninsula.

And China came back by threatening to impose a 179% “tariff’ on imports of US sorghum
And China came back by threatening to impose a 179% “tariff’ on imports of US sorghum

And French economy minister Bruno Le Maire warned the European Union must remain united against the US.

"We are patient, we are prepared and Labour Day will be full of labour for us", Schinas told reporters.

The response to the move was swift, with the European Commission saying, "The US decision prolongs market uncertainty, which is already affecting business decisions".

Shortly after that, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Australia would be exempt. Picture: AAP Image/Daniel Munoz. "We have to follow through on the promises we made to our industry and to our country and we're counting on the president to do that". Manufacturers also expressed concern in the Federal Reserve's latest Beige Book, which surveys businesses from around the US.

South Korea was given an indefinite exemption in return for a 30% cut in its steel exports to the US.

"New Zealand is a strong security and defence partner for the USA, and we enjoy a healthy and balanced trade relationship".

UK Steel director Gareth Stace warned: "30 days does not give us much time and all signs point towards a U.S. insistence on the restriction of steel exports by its allies". "Our products are not a major part of the overall export market", he said at the briefing.