Turnbull reportedly saves Australia from US trade restrictions on aluminium and steel

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Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull reacts as he speaks during an official function for the Liberal Party during the Australian general election in Sydney, Australia, July 3, 2016.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull reacts as he speaks during an official function for the Liberal Party during the Australian general election in Sydney, Australia, July 3, 2016. Reuters/David Gray

Australia has secured an exemption for aluminium and steel from the United States. Aussie Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and finance minister Mathias Cormann lobbied US President Donald Trump and other White House officials during the G20 summit last week to get the exemption from US tariff.

Cormann and White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn reportedly met last week to discuss the matter, since Trump has considered imposing tariffs in response to the overabundance of steel worldwide. Turnbull and Cormann also met with US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, Australian Financial Review reports. They told the US official that overproduction and dumping by China were the cause of Trump’s concerns.

According to Cormann, Turnbull also personally spoke to his US counterpart. “The prime minister spoke to President Trump directly, explaining the Australian position and our concern that should the United States decide to pursue any trade measures in relation to steel and aluminium as a result of their current investigation, then we would like to see Australia exempted from any such measures,” he told ABC radio on Monday, adding that the concern of the US about the pressure their aluminium and steels sectors is facing is understandable. But he pointed out that Australia is a trusted trading partner and is not involved in the issues the US is concerned about.

Cormann said the Australian position was understood as a result of the strong representations by Turnbull. However, he did not confirm if the Turnbull government got the assurance that Australian companies would be exempted from any trade restrictions.

In London, Turnbull spoke with UK Prime Minister Theresa May about national security and told her he was “always interested in learning about the British experience.” News.com.au quotes him as saying, “We have to be dynamic, agile, constantly asking can we improve the way our agencies are keeping Australians safe and we will always continue to seek to improve them and I’ve demonstrated that with our cybersecurity strategy [and] counter-terrorism laws."

The meeting of the two leaders covered intelligence co-operation, counter-terrorism, the North Korean threat and trade. Turnbull and May met after the G20 summit in Hamburg. The former said that Australia and the UK are both committed to fighting “end-to-end encryption.”

Furthermore, the two countries both intend to make tech giants more accountable for content shared online. Turnbull said the internet should not be utilised as a means to create dark places where terrorists could not be found.

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