United States will gain nothing by imposing tariffs: Australian PM

Trump has said he would consider exemptions based on national security grounds and the economic relationship between various countries and the U.S.

The President tweeted about the decision, saying he was "committed to having a very fair and reciprocal military and trade relationship".

BlueScope chief executive Mark Vassella was at the AFR summit with the prime minister, who he said had "worked really hard" to get an exemption.

Mr Turnbull recently visited Washington in a bid to encourage trade, but Australia is not exempt from USA plans to impose a global 25 per cent tariff on steel imports and a 10 per cent tariff on aluminium imports.

Mr Trump made the announcement on Saturday morning after authorising new tariffs this week.

During yesterday's signing of the tariffs, 25 per cent on imported steel and 10 per cent on aluminium, he confirmed Canada and Mexico would be exempted permanently if the ongoing renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement is successful.

"I was very pleased the President was able to confirm he would not have to impose tariffs on Australian steel and aluminium", he said.

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University of Western Australia professor and Perth USAsia Centre Peter Dean told The New Daily Mr Turnbull's successful White House visit was "diametrically opposed" to the leaders' first contact 12 months ago. The US has a trade surplus in Australia and it is the largest direct foreign investor in Australia.

"We are living in historic times of unraveling, " he said.

"There would of course be winners and losers from these particular USA tariffs, including Australian manufacturers of products made from steel or aluminium", he added.

In Brussels on Saturday, US trade representative Robert Lighthizer met with his European Union and Japanese counterparts, but the meeting offered little new clarity amid fears of a global trade war.

Australian steel and aluminum to the United States were worth just over A$400 million a year ago, government data shows.

The U.S.is the world's largest importer of steel, importing almost four times as much as it exports, according to the White House.

Mr Willox said any special treatment afforded to Australia would only apply to shipments coming out of the country, and not to those from Australian companies in third markets.

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