President Donald Trump has continued to air concerns about Australian aluminum exports to the United States, once again reviving concerns that nearly let him to impose tariffs on the products about a month and a half ago, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
The aluminum trade was a topic of conversation between Trump and Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week at the G-20 summit. The discussion highlighted Trump's frustration at the strong increase in exports, which are up 350% in the first quarter of this year.
Trump then mentioned a "trade situation" with Australia in his public remarks but the concern about aluminum during the private talks was not revealed last week. Trump had agreed last year to an exemption from US tariffs on steel and aluminum after hearing arguments from former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Australian ambassador to Washington.
But it has been reported as recently as early June that US officials want the exemption on aluminum to be removed because the exports have grown so quickly. Trump's trade advisors want the tariffs, but Defense Department and State Department officials cautioned against offending Australia.
Morrison had several talks with Trump when the two spoke during G-20 and Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said on Sunday he didn’t expect any change to the US treatment of Australian steel and aluminum. Birmingham said:
"The arrangements that were struck previously, we understand, will continue. We're working to make sure that all aspects of those arrangements, including ensuring that there aren't surges of Australian exports into the US in those categories where we've got the tariff exemption, are honoured. And we're working closely with companies to deliver outcomes there that preserve that agreement, and we don't expect to see, based on the discussions we've had, any changes to the terms of that agreement."
And despite concerns being raised again in Osaka, Trump is still reportedly "a long way from upset."