Trump suggests tariffs could exempt Australia and other countries

In this March 6, 2018, photo, President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Gary Cohn’s departure as chief Trump economic adviser heightens doubts about the direction of the administration’s economic policies just as Republican lawmakers prepare for midterm elections. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump is suggesting that Australia and "other countries" may be exempted from steel and aluminum tariffs, along with Mexico and Canada.

Trump says he's sticking with his initial plan for import tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum. But the president says, "We're going to be very flexible."

His comments in a Cabinet meeting Thursday come hours before a 3:30 p.m. meeting to formalize the tariffs amid uncertainty in the West Wing over which countries will be exempted from the protectionist measure.

Trump is expected to delay the imposition of tariffs on Canada and Mexico to turn up the pressure in negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement.

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