Although President Trump faced growing pressure on Monday from political and diplomatic allies as well as U.S. companies to pull back from his proposed steel and aluminum tariffs, he remained defiant and said he would not back down.

“We’re not backing down,” Trump said during a White House meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “I don’t think you’re going to have a trade war,” he added, without elaborating.

President Trump during discussions with business leaders on new tariffs on steel and aluminium on March 1, 2018. Credit: Reuters

Business leaders are pressing for a meeting with Trump to brief him on the negative repercussions of the tariffs on companies that use steel and aluminum, a source familiar with the matter said.

A meeting had not yet been set up, the source said. The White House had no comment.

The planned tariffs have roiled world stock markets as investors worried about the prospect of an escalating trade war that would derail global economic growth. Stocks across the globe rose on Monday, however, after four days in decline as investors saw the tariff threats as a U.S. negotiating tactic and not a done deal and as pressure grew on Trump to back off.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump. Credit: Reuters

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called U.S. President Trump on Monday to tell him the tariffs would be an impediment to talks on updating NAFTA, a Canadian government official said.

Canada is the single largest supplier of steel and aluminum to the United States. In the call, Trudeau “forcefully defended” Canadian workers and industries, said the official, describing the conversation as constructive.

Earlier comments from Trump had stoked talk of a global trade war as he described them as easy to win and issued a threat to German carmakers. One of those, BMW, runs a plant in the United States that is the largest single autos exporter in the country and has created thousands of jobs.

Most responses to Trump’s proposed tariffs have been targeted. The European Union said it would hit Harleys, bourbon and jeans, iconic American products. It did not threaten to ramp up the issue.

A steel blast furnace at AG Steel plant in Duisburg, Germany. Credit: Bloomberg

China has been largely mum, urging caution, and both Canada and Mexico have stressed the targeted nature of any response.

President Trump was expected to finalize the planned tariffs later in the week, although some observers familiar with the process say it could occur next week. The initial announcement by the President last week came as a surprise.

The U.S. Mexico and Canada have been holding trilateral talks over changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a trade pact that President Trump has threatened to abandon.

U.S. Commerce Department is proposing high tariffs on steel and aluminium. Credit: Getty Images

Six months of tense talks have so far produced little in the way of progress and a move by Washington to link the steel and aluminum tariffs to progress on NAFTA was rebuffed by Canada and Mexico.

In Washington, aides scrambled to meet President Trump’s demand for the paperwork to be completed for a formal announcement. The exact timing was unclear as the tariff documentation had to be drafted and go through a variety of reviews, a process that takes days, an administration official said.

There was always a chance that Trump “could amend his initial announcement” to take account of the concerns expressed about it, said a source familiar with the internal debate at the White House.



A Reuters report.  Further editing by Manyika Review.  

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