WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has delayed a decision about whether to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on the European Union, Canada and Mexico for another 30 days, giving key allies a reprieve as the countries carry out further negotiations, a person familiar with the discussions said Monday evening.
The tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum were set to go into effect on May 1. The administration, which granted temporary exemptions to a handful of countries in March, has also reached initial agreements with Argentina, Australia and Brazil that will allow them to avoid, at least for now, the tariffs. Details of those agreements will be finalized in the next 30 days, the person said.
The administration’s decision temporarily puts off a controversial announcement that could have imposed stiff tariffs on close American allies and prompted swift retaliation on American products in return.
The Trump administration had been seeking concessions from these countries in exchange for not allowing the tariffs to go into effect, betting that the threat of tariffs would pressure allies and trading partners to renegotiate trading terms in America’s favor. But while the threat of tariffs had helped finalize a continuing deal with South Korea, there has been little indication that nations like those in the European Union would fold to White House demands.
The decision will come as a relief to major American allies, like the European Union, that were bracing for the tariffs. But it could fuel criticism that Mr. Trump is more bark than bite and increase the pressure on the White House to squeeze concessions from other nations that they have so far been unwilling to agree to, such as lowering the amount of metals imported into America.