With the stroke of a pen, President Donald Trump has set off a race among nations and companies to win relief from his steel and aluminum tariffs.
Close US ally Japan warned the tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminium "could have a grave impact on the economic relationship" between the world's top and third-largest economies.
The U.S. administration has since said it could offer Mexico and Canada a 30-day exemption from the planned tariffs, with an option to extend the deal depending on progress in NAFTA talks.
The EU has warned that it stands ready to slap retaliatory tariffs on USA steel, agricultural and other products, like peanut butter, cranberries and orange juice.
Nevertheless, "the biggest risk for German exports seems to come from the U.S.... the risk for Germany is for real", he added.
The trade sanctions will come into force in two weeks' time. "If we're in NATO, he wants to make sure that NATO gets more money so that NATO can protect all of us and fulfill its goal", Mnuchin told CNBC.
Quach dismissed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross's recent comments that these tariffs would mean insignificant price increases on cans of Campbell soup and Coca-Cola.
Lighthizer's meetings with European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom and separately with Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko were long planned, but they took on added urgency as allies warned the United States moves could provoke a global trade war.
But the official said that with any alternative remedies, it was important to maintain the target for increasing steel and aluminum industry capacity utilization, which could result in higher tariffs for other countries.
Those briefed on the plans say the exclusion for Canada and Mexico could be ended, if talks stall to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mexican federal elections scheduled for July 1 and USA congressional elections in the fall are adding pressure, as changes of government as a result of either could affect both getting a deal and getting it ratified.
The proclamation signed by Trump ordering the tariffs do suggest some possible grounds for exemptions based off the specific reasons listed for excluding Canada and Mexico.
The EU has threatened retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods, including iconic products like bourbon and blue jeans.
"Tariffs are taxes, and the American taxpayer will pay the cost of a trade war", said Cody Lusk, president and CEO of the American International Automobile Dealers Association.
China was quick to respond to Trump's announcement.
The Trump administration earlier approved higher tariffs on Chinese-made washing machines, solar modules and some other goods, prompting Beijing to accuse Washington of disrupting global trade regulation by taking action under US law instead of through the World Trade Organization.
"Under the WTO rules, the European Union can not put in these kinds of tariffs except after the WTO has found that the move by the USA violated the WTO rules".
House Speaker Paul Ryan released a statement Thursday saying he opposes the tariffs but is relieved that Trump exempted Canada and Mexico. "China would have to make a justified and necessary response", he said.
European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom, center, U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer, left, and Japanese Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko arrive for a meeting at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels on Saturday.