New York Times: Trump administration discussed Australia tariffs

Tariffs against top US ally were fiercely debated

By Kate Sullivan, CNN
Oliver Contreras-Pool/Getty Images

Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and President Donald Trump in the Oval Office on February 23, 2018.

(CNN) - President Donald Trump's administration recently discussed imposing tariffs on imports from Australia but ultimately decided against them, The New York Times reported Sunday.

The idea, pushed by some of Trump's top trade advisers, was met by intense opposition from the State Department and military officials, according to the Times.

The tariffs on Australia would have affected imports of aluminum, which have recently surged, but other products had also been discussed, the Times reports. Australia has been one of the few countries not facing metal tariffs since the Trump administration imposed tariffs last year.

Officials at the Defense and State Department told Trump the decision would alienate a top ally to the US and could come at a great cost to the US, according to the Times.

Asked Sunday about placing tariffs on Australia, Trump said the "Australian situation is interesting."

"But the relationship is very strong," he told reporters at the White House. "No, we're doing a very -- very special relationship with Australia."

The discussions of imposing tariffs on a US ally come amid trade tensions with other US allies like Canada, Mexico, Europe and Japan, and a deepening trade war with China.

CNN's Sarah Westwood contributed to this report.

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