Bogged down in a sprawling trade dispute with US rival China, President Trump took steps Friday to ease tensions with America's allies—lifting import taxes on Canadian and Mexican steel and aluminum and delaying auto tariffs that would have hurt Japan and Europe. By removing the metals tariffs on Canada and Mexico, Trump cleared a key roadblock to a North American trade pact his team negotiated last year, per the AP. As part of Friday's arrangement, the Canadians and Mexicans agreed to scrap retaliatory tariffs they had imposed on US goods. Earlier Friday, the White House said Trump is delaying for six months any decision to slap tariffs on foreign cars, a move that would have hit Japan and the Europe especially hard.
Trump still is hoping to use the threat of auto tariffs to pressure Japan and the European Union into making concessions in ongoing trade talks. "If agreements are not reached within 180 days, the president will determine whether and what further action needs to be taken," said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. In regard to the other move, the newly negotiated trade deal—the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement—needs approval the legislatures in the US, Canada, and Mexico. Several key US lawmakers were threatening to reject the pact unless the tariffs were removed. And Canada had suggested it wouldn't ratify any deal while the tariffs were still in place. (Read more tariffs stories.)