Stock futures in the United States trimmed some small losses to kick off May following President Trump’s decision to extend a tariff deadline by 30 days for some allies. The commander-in-chief proposed the 25 percent tariff on steel imports along with a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports back in March.
Now, with the deadline extended for another month the pressure is on for allies and the administration to come together to negotiate trade deals. According to some reports, there will be no further extension of exemptions from the tariffs for Canada, Mexico, Brazil, the European Union, Australia, and Argentina. The president has, however, granted a permanent exemption from the steel tariffs to South Korea. That exemption was part of a revision to a free trade pact that Trump had strongly criticized in the past.
The White House released a statement saying that deals with Brazil, Argentina, and Australia will be finalized shortly, although it didn’t detail any of those possible agreements.
“The administration is also extending negotiations with Canada, Mexico, and the European Union for a final 30 days. In all of these negotiations, the administration is focused on quotas that will restrain imports, prevent transshipment, and protect the national security,” the White House added.
France, Germany, and the European Commission have called on Trump to offer permanent relief from the proposed tariffs as the United States works on trade deals. Brussels has warned that it “will not negotiate under threat,” meaning that until Trump removes any threat of the tariffs, it’s not likely the small country will be at the negotiating table.
France took a more reserved approach to the issue, saying it was “ready to work,” with America to address the global steel market, but warned that “we can only calmly [address the global steel market] once we are certain to be permanently exempted from the threat of a unilateral increase in tariffs.”
Trump seems to still be convinced that the European Union will grant the United States some concessions.
Peter Navarro, a trade adviser, recently addressed a steel industry conference saying “the guiding principle of this administration—from the president right down to his team—is that any country or entity like the European Union, which is exempt from the tariffs, will have a quota and other restrictions which are necessary to defend the aluminum and steel industries from imports in defense of our national security.”
Investors are still on edge though as trade negotiations and a possible tariff war are looming in the future. There is also concern that President Trump will pull Washington from a 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran. French President Macron recently visited the oval office to try and persuade Trump to remain a part of the international agreement, it’s unclear if that visit will affect Trump’s ultimate decision.
Overall, while the market has posted some gains, following the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, there is still a significant amount of uncertainty over President Trump’s trade plans for the nation. Uncertainty in the market is never a good sign, as investors are more likely to keep hold of their current portfolios and try to “weather the storm.”
Whatever the ultimate outcome, retaining good relations with the European Union is important for the Trump administration. The European Union is the United States’ largest goods trading partner, with over $700 billion in trade last year.