Julie Bishop leads politicians denying trade-off for US tariffs deal

Julie Bishop has reassured Aussies over the Trump tariff deal. Source: Sky News and Getty.

Donald Trump confirmed Australia is exempt from new steel and aluminium tariffs the US is imposing on most exporters just hours ago, as he and Malcolm Turnbull celebrated the news on social media.

But politicians have now been forced to deny there was a trade-off made, and reassured Aussies that the US will not be expecting anything in return.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop addressed apparent concerns that Australia would be forced into joining America in military engagements, after Trump made it clear just weeks ago that he would like the country to join the US on new freedom of navigation exercises in the South China Sea.

“There is no further security arrangement. There was no reciprocal arrangement as a result of the tariff exemption,” she told Sky News on Sunday.

Julie Bishop put Aussies’ minds at rest. Source: Sky News.

“The exemption is simply an exemption based on what they call national security grounds …The United States was not asking anything in return.”

Meanwhile, she was joined by Trade Minister Steve Ciobo, who also denied any trade-off had been made.

“I’ve seen some, frankly, incredibly wild theories emanating from all quarters including some journalists who should know better,” he told ABC TV. “It is effectively just about the paperwork.”

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Read more: Trump tweets Turnbull: Australia off the hook on tariffs

It comes after Trump and PM Turnbull said Australia would be exempt from new steel and aluminium tariffs the US is imposing on most exporters, in a series of tweets on Saturday.

Trump praised Turnbull and “the great nation of Australia” in his announcement. “He is committed to having a very fair and reciprocal military and trade relationship,” Trump said on Twitter, referring to Turnbull.

“Working very quickly on a security agreement so we don’t have to impose steel or aluminum tariffs on our ally, the great nation of Australia.”

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Turnbull soon replied with his own tweet, saying Australia had “no closer ally” than the US.

“Great discussion today on security and trade. Australia/US trade is fair & reciprocal & each of our nations has no closer ally,” he wrote. “Thank you for confirming new tariffs won’t have to be imposed on Australian steel & aluminium – good for jobs in Australia and in US!”

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The announcement is a major diplomatic victory for the Turnbull government, which has been lobbying hard for Australia to be exempt from the tariffs.

Earlier this week, Trump announced the US will impose a 25 per cent tariff on steel imports and a 10 per cent tariff on aluminium imports as part of its renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The announcement sparked talk of a trade war and fears the Australian mining industry would be placed under even more pressure as it attempts to compete with some of the world’s biggest exporters.

Are you glad to hear this news? Were you worried there was a trade-off?