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Australian delegations, headed by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop, have aggressively lobbied the White House in recent months to secure the exemption.

Regarding the dispute with the United States, the EU says in a document submitted to the WTO that USA tariff measures "adversely affect exports of these goods from the European Union to the United States". Brussels has lodged an eight-page list at the worldwide trade body of goods it would hit with retaliatory measures.

The United States, Canada and Mexico have been renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, which governs trade between the three countries.

Canada, the largest supplier of steel to the United States, will impose tariffs covering C$16.6 billion ($12.8 billion) on USA imports, including whiskey, orange juice, steel, aluminium and other products.

It came after the European Union said it would introduce retaliatory tariffs after Mr Trump's "illegal" and "dangerous" decision. "We are expecting everybody to play by the rules".

Speaking on Thursday, Ross said the objectives of the Trump administration hadn't changed.

Fears of a trade war between the US and its allies were bolstered by the talk that US President Donald Trump is also seeking to levy imports of German cars; the tariffs would be similar to those on steel and aluminum.

Canada has responded to the steel and aluminum tariffs with $16.6 billion in planned countermeasures, which includes surtaxes aimed to hit major industries in some high-profile Republican districts, such as gherkins from Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan's Wisconsin stomping ground, and whiskies from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's home state of Kentucky.

Trump maintains that the United States has been unfairly treated in trade with its neighboring and oversees partners.

"So we never got this".

Canada argued that the retaliatory tariffs on United States goods were legal under World Trade Organization rules since they were equivalent to what they viewed as an improper USA action.

United Kingdom steel bosses have also expressed fears of the effect tariffs will have on the industry, saying that the U.S. move is a "big mistake".

The EU trade commissioner, Cecilia Malmstrom, has said Mr Trump's tariffs are "further weakening transatlantic relations".

Other EU countries such as France favor a more robust stance against what they see as American bullying.

Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse called the tariffs (quote) "dumb" adding " We've been down this road before - blanket protectionism is a big part of why America had a Great Depression...

"If President Trump thinks this move will give him leverage in the NAFTA negotiations, I think Canada's response shows he's wrong", Leblond opined. European Union officials are said to be resigned to accepting that some sort of tariffs are coming their way.

"The unilateral protectionist move does not benefit any country", Aso said. She said that China is to be blamed for the problems identified by the USA, and not the EU.