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US may tie NATO contributions to tariff exemptions

WASHINGTON (AP)  U.S. allies seeking to avoid the steel and aluminum tariffs approved by President Donald Trump might be asked to step up their financial commitments to NATO.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told CNBC in a Friday interview that the president will consider national security, noting that Trump wants to be sure that NATO gets more funding from European allies who Trump has previously criticized for not contributing enough.

"If we're in NATO, he wants to make sure that NATO gets more money so that NATO can protect all of us and fulfill its goal," Mnuchin said, underscoring Trump's push to get NATO allies to pay 2 percent on defense.

Trump drew on rarely-used national security grounds to place a 25 percent tax on steel imports and 10 percent tax on imported aluminum. Only Canada and Mexico  both partners in the North American Free Trade Agreement being renegotiated  were excluded from the tariffs.

The Treasury secretary said he has been speaking with his foreign counterparts and "my expectation is there may be some other countries that he considers in the next two weeks."

Other countries seeking exemptions from the tariffs will have to make their case through U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, but the president will make the ultimate decision, a senior administration official told reporters 

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