WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Thursday authorized the suspension of controversial tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from key trade partners including the European Union.
"The tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from the following countries are suspended until May 1, 2018," the White House said in a statement, listing EU members states, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and South Korea.
"Each of these countries has an important security relationship with the United States," a proclamation from Trump announcing the steel decision said.
The US is in discussions with the countries "on satisfactory alternative means to address the threatened impairment to the national security by imports of steel articles," and tariffs on steel imports from the trade partners will be exempt for now, it said.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer had told a Senate committee earlier in the day that the tariff suspension had been authorized by Trump.
"The idea that the president has is that, based on a certain set of criteria, that some countries should get out," Lighthizer said in testimony before the Senate Finance Committee.
Trump signed the tariffs -- 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on imported aluminium -- earlier this month, drawing condemnation from allies and sparking fears of a trade war.
Many countries, including the EU, warned the White House that they would retaliate forcefully if they are faced with tariffs on metals products.
The Trump administration has stressed that the primary target is China, which has long had massive overproduction that has impacted the global market for steel and aluminium.