US president Donald Trump is to delay imposing steel and aluminium tariffs on the EU, Mexico and Canada until at least 1 June, according to the White House.
Trump imposed a 25% tariff on steel imports and 10% on aluminium in March, but left open negotiating longer term exemptions for countries with temporary ones.
Agreements on tariff exemptions have been reached in principle between the US and Argentina, Australia and Brazil.
UK Steel director Gareth Stace said he had been “expecting the worst”: “But a further extension to the EU exemption gives us a little more breathing room to continue discussions and find a way through the current impasse to reach a permanent agreement that works for all parties.”
Stace added that 1 June gave little time to negotiate, and “all signs point towards a US insistence on the restriction of steel exports by its allies”.
He said US calls to the EU to limit steel exports were unjustified, contrary to World Trade Organization rules, and both the US and UK steel industries were already reporting problems because of Trump’s original move.
Stace said: “The only sustainable solution to the root cause of the issue – global overcapacity in steel production – is multilateral discussions and action through established international channels. This must continue apace.
“It is vital that the EU forges ahead with its own safeguard action, to ensure domestic producers are not hit by an import surge resulting from millions of tonnes of steel diverted away from the US towards the EU in the months ahead.”