The White House just hinted 2 of America's biggest allies could be spared from Trump's massive new tariffs

  • White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said new tariffs on steel and aluminum will have carve outs for Canada and Mexico.
  • Sanders said the carve outs would be "based on national security" and could eventually extend to other countries.
  • President Donald Trump and other administration officials previously said there would be no exemptions for any nations.

New US tariffs on steel and aluminum could have carve outs for Canada, Mexico, and other key allies, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday, potentially softening the blow of the incoming trade restrictions.

"There are potential carve outs for Mexico and Canada based on national security and possibly other countries as well based on that process," Sanders told reporters Wednesday.

Sanders also said President Donald Trump would sign the final version of the tariffs by the end of the week. Multiple reports indicate Trump's signature could come as soon as Thursday. The press secretary was vague when asked how countries could qualify for potential exemptions.

"That would be a case-by-case and country-by-country basis, but it would be determined whether or not there would be a national security exemption," Sanders said.

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Impact of Trump's proposed steel and aluminum tariffs
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Impact of Trump's proposed steel and aluminum tariffs
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 1: A trader is comforted by a coworker as they work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on March 1, 2018 in New York City. Major stock indexes plunged Thursday afternoon following President Trump's announcement that he was imposing a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum. Investor concern about the news rattled the Dow Jones industrial average, which closed down more than 400 points. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MARCH 02: Wine in aluminum cans is displayed on a shelf at Ales Unlimited on March 2, 2018 in San Francisco, California. Beverage companies that use aluminum for canned drinks are concerned that tariffs proposed by US President Donald Trump could result in higher prices for consumers and job cuts across the industry. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump announces that the United States will impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on imported aluminum during a meeting at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 1, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Members of trade unions hold a protest against US President Donal Trump's import surcharge on Brazilian steel and in defense of their employment, outside the US Consulate in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on March 5, 2018. Since announcing last week plans to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminium, Trump has shrugged off threats from many nations, including China, Canada, Brazil and Mexico among others. / AFP PHOTO / Miguel SCHINCARIOL (Photo credit should read MIGUEL SCHINCARIOL/AFP/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MARCH 02: Beer in aluminum cans is displayed on a shelf at Ales Unlimited on March 2, 2018 in San Francisco, California. Beverage companies that use aluminum for canned drinks are concerned that tariffs proposed by US President Donald Trump could result in higher prices for consumers and job cuts across the industry. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and press secretary Sarah Sanders listen as U.S. President Donald Trump announces that the United States will impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on imported aluminum during a meeting at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 1, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 1: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on March 1, 2018 in New York City. Major stock indexes plunged Thursday afternoon following President Trump's announcement that he was imposing a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum. Investor concern about the news rattled the Dow Jones industrial average, which closed down more than 400 points. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
Members of trade unions hold a protest against US President Donal Trump's import surcharge on Brazilian steel and in defense of their employment, outside the US Consulate in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on March 5, 2018. Since announcing last week plans to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminium, Trump has shrugged off threats from many nations, including China, Canada, Brazil and Mexico among others. / AFP PHOTO / Miguel SCHINCARIOL (Photo credit should read MIGUEL SCHINCARIOL/AFP/Getty Images)
Chairman, CEO and president of Nucor John Ferriola and U.S. Steel CEO Dave Burritt flank U.S. President Donald Trump as he announces that the United States will impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on imported aluminum during a meeting at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 1, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 1: A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on March 1, 2018 in New York City. Major stock indexes plunged Thursday afternoon following President Trump's announcement that he was imposing a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum. Investor concern about the news rattled the Dow Jones industrial average, which closed down more than 400 points. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MARCH 02: Wine in aluminum cans is displayed on a shelf at Ales Unlimited on March 2, 2018 in San Francisco, California. Beverage companies that use aluminum for canned drinks are concerned that tariffs proposed by US President Donald Trump could result in higher prices for consumers and job cuts across the industry. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 1: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on March 1, 2018 in New York City. Major stock indexes plunged Thursday afternoon following President Trump's announcement that he was imposing a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum. Investor concern about the news rattled the Dow Jones industrial average, which closed down more than 400 points. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
Pacific Coast Producers president and CEO Dan Vincent stands in his cooperative's distribution center in Lodi, California, U.S., April 27, 2018. Picture taken April 27, 2018. To match Insight USA-TRUMP/TARIFFS-CANS REUTERS/Noah Berger
An employee uses a crane as he prepares to move a steel pipe at the SAW Pipe Mills, operated by Liberty Commodities Ltd., in Hartlepool, U.K., on Thursday, June 14, 2018. Steel and aluminum�tariffs�imposed by the U.S. in March may already be filtering through to prices charged by American producers of the metals. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images
An employee passes a stack of steel pipes at the SAW Pipe Mills, operated by Liberty Commodities Ltd., in Hartlepool, U.K., on Thursday, June 14, 2018. Steel and aluminum�tariffs�imposed by the U.S. in March may already be filtering through to prices charged by American producers of the metals. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A steel pipe enters a cleaning machine at the SAW Pipe Mills, operated by Liberty Commodities Ltd., in Hartlepool, U.K., on Thursday, June 14, 2018. Steel and aluminum�tariffs�imposed by the U.S. in March may already be filtering through to prices charged by American producers of the metals. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Identification stencils hang above steel pipes at the SAW Pipe Mills, operated by Liberty Commodities Ltd., in Hartlepool, U.K., on Thursday, June 14, 2018. Steel and aluminum�tariffs�imposed by the U.S. in March may already be filtering through to prices charged by American producers of the metals. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Sheet steel sits stacked in the store room at the SAW Pipe Mills, operated by Liberty Commodities Ltd., in Hartlepool, U.K., on Thursday, June 14, 2018. Steel and aluminum�tariffs�imposed by the U.S. in March may already be filtering through to prices charged by American producers of the metals. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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The tariffs, which act as a tax on imports, are set to be enacted using a little-used provision of trade law that allows the president to act to curtail imports of a good on national security grounds. The intent of the provision is to prevent the US from becoming too dependent on imports of a key good from any country that may become an adversary.

Canada, Mexico, and other allies said the White House's justification made little sense given the countries' relationship with the US.

Sanders' hint at exemptions comes after Trump and other administration officials, such as top trade adviser Peter Navarro, said there would be no carve outs for any nation.

But such a move could head off some of the more aggressive countermeasures from allied countries. The tit-for-tat scenario of a trade war has worried economists and investors after Trump's announcement last Thursday.

The new restrictions are set to come as the US, Mexico, and Canada attempt to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. The talks over the massive trade deal were thrown for a loop after Trump's unexpected tariff announcement.

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NTP: Trump facing trouble in old Penn. steel mill areas
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NTP: Trump facing trouble in old Penn. steel mill areas
The blast furnaces of the now-closed Bethlehem Steel mill, sit behind row houses and a cemetery in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, U.S. April 21, 2016. After Bethlehem Steel's blast furnaces went silent 20 years ago in the city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the local economy bounced back as new industrial parks filled with e-commerce companies and white-collar businesses fleeing New York's higher costs. That adds to the challenge for Donald Trump, Republican nominee for the U.S. presidency, as he seeks voters' backing in the state's primary on April 26. REUTERS/Brian Snyder SEARCH "BETHLEHEM STEEL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Danny Hughes, who ran a crane at the now-closed Bethlehem Steel Mill for 24 years, sits on his porch in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, U.S. April 22, 2016. After Bethlehem Steel's blast furnaces went silent 20 years ago in the city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the local economy bounced back as new industrial parks filled with e-commerce companies and white-collar businesses fleeing New York's higher costs. That adds to the challenge for Donald Trump, Republican nominee for the U.S. presidency, as he seeks voters' backing in the state's primary on April 26. REUTERS/Brian Snyder SEARCH "BETHLEHEM STEEL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Railroad tracks run past the blast furnaces of the now-closed Bethlehem Steel mill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, U.S. April 21, 2016. After Bethlehem Steel's blast furnaces went silent 20 years ago in the city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the local economy bounced back as new industrial parks filled with e-commerce companies and white-collar businesses fleeing New York's higher costs. That adds to the challenge for Donald Trump, Republican nominee for the U.S. presidency, as he seeks voters' backing in the state's primary on April 26. REUTERS/Brian Snyder SEARCH "BETHLEHEM STEEL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A man walks past multi-colored homes that face the now-closed Bethlehem Steel mill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, U.S. April 22, 2016. After Bethlehem Steel's blast furnaces went silent 20 years ago in the city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the local economy bounced back as new industrial parks filled with e-commerce companies and white-collar businesses fleeing New York's higher costs. That adds to the challenge for Donald Trump, Republican nominee for the U.S. presidency, as he seeks voters' backing in the state's primary on April 26. REUTERS/Brian Snyder SEARCH "BETHLEHEM STEEL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A cross stands in a cemetry, while factories are seen in the distance in this handout out photograph Bethlehem, November 1935. After Bethlehem Steel's blast furnaces went silent 20 years ago in the city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the local economy bounced back as new industrial parks filled with e-commerce companies and white-collar businesses fleeing New York's higher costs. That adds to the challenge for Donald Trump, Republican nominee for the U.S. presidency, as he seeks voters' backing in the state's primary on April 26. Walker Evans/U.S. Farm Security Administration/Library of Congress via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. SEARCH "BETHLEHEM STEEL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
The door to a guard office at one of the entrances to the now-closed Bethlehem Steel mill is padlocked shut in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, U.S. April 22, 2016. After Bethlehem Steel's blast furnaces went silent 20 years ago in the city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the local economy bounced back as new industrial parks filled with e-commerce companies and white-collar businesses fleeing New York's higher costs. That adds to the challenge for Donald Trump, Republican nominee for the U.S. presidency, as he seeks voters' backing in the state's primary on April 26. REUTERS/Brian Snyder SEARCH "BETHLEHEM STEEL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
The sign for Steel Ave stands in front of the sign for the Sands Casino, built on a portion of the site of the former Bethlehem Steel mill, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, U.S. April 21, 2016. After Bethlehem Steel's blast furnaces went silent 20 years ago in the city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the local economy bounced back as new industrial parks filled with e-commerce companies and white-collar businesses fleeing New York's higher costs. That adds to the challenge for Donald Trump, Republican nominee for the U.S. presidency, as he seeks voters' backing in the state's primary on April 26. REUTERS/Brian Snyder SEARCH "BETHLEHEM STEEL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Seventy-six-year-old crossing guard June Young helps pedestrians through an intersection she has worked for 32 years, with the blast furnaces from the now-closed Bethlehem Steel mill behind her, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, U.S. April 21, 2016. Young's father and two brothers all worked at the steel mill, her father from the age of eighteen until he retired at the age of sixty-two. REUTERS/Brian Snyder SEARCH "BETHLEHEM STEEL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A U.S. flag is stuck in the broken window of a building on the grounds of the now-closed Bethlehem Steel mill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, U.S. April 21, 2016. After Bethlehem Steel's blast furnaces went silent 20 years ago in the city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the local economy bounced back as new industrial parks filled with e-commerce companies and white-collar businesses fleeing New York's higher costs. That adds to the challenge for Donald Trump, Republican nominee for the U.S. presidency, as he seeks voters' backing in the state's primary on April 26. REUTERS/Brian Snyder SEARCH "BETHLEHEM STEEL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
The blast furnaces at the now-closed Bethlehem Steel mill remain standing in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, U.S. April 22, 2016. After Bethlehem Steel's blast furnaces went silent 20 years ago in the city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the local economy bounced back as new industrial parks filled with e-commerce companies and white-collar businesses fleeing New York's higher costs. That adds to the challenge for Donald Trump, Republican nominee for the U.S. presidency, as he seeks voters' backing in the state's primary on April 26. REUTERS/Brian Snyder SEARCH "BETHLEHEM STEEL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
The blast furnaces of the now-closed Bethlehem Steel mill are reflected in the glass windows as a man participates in a meeting inside, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, U.S. April 21, 2016. Steel manufacturing began at Bethlehem Steel in 1873 until the mill closed in 1995 and now the site houses a casino, a hotel and arts performance spaces. REUTERS/Brian Snyder SEARCH "BETHLEHEM STEEL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
The guard office at one of the entrances to the now-closed Bethlehem Steel mill sits empty in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, U.S. April 22, 2016. After Bethlehem Steel's blast furnaces went silent 20 years ago in the city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the local economy bounced back as new industrial parks filled with e-commerce companies and white-collar businesses fleeing New York's higher costs. That adds to the challenge for Donald Trump, Republican nominee for the U.S. presidency, as he seeks voters' backing in the state's primary on April 26. REUTERS/Brian Snyder SEARCH "BETHLEHEM STEEL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Erin Stealey practises with her hoop next to the blast furnaces of the now-closed Bethlehem Steel mill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, U.S. April 21, 2016. After Bethlehem Steel's blast furnaces went silent 20 years ago in the city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the local economy bounced back as new industrial parks filled with e-commerce companies and white-collar businesses fleeing New York's higher costs. That adds to the challenge for Donald Trump, Republican nominee for the U.S. presidency, as he seeks voters' backing in the state's primary on April 26. REUTERS/Brian Snyder SEARCH "BETHLEHEM STEEL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A U.S. flag flies in front of the blast furnaces at the now-closed Bethlehem Steel mill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, U.S. April 22, 2016. After Bethlehem Steel's blast furnaces went silent 20 years ago in the city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the local economy bounced back as new industrial parks filled with e-commerce companies and white-collar businesses fleeing New York's higher costs. That adds to the challenge for Donald Trump, Republican nominee for the U.S. presidency, as he seeks voters' backing in the state's primary on April 26. REUTERS/Brian Snyder SEARCH "BETHLEHEM STEEL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Visitors walk past the blast furnaces of the now-closed Bethlehem Steel mill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, U.S. April 21, 2016. After Bethlehem Steel's blast furnaces went silent 20 years ago in the city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the local economy bounced back as new industrial parks filled with e-commerce companies and white-collar businesses fleeing New York's higher costs. That adds to the challenge for Donald Trump, Republican nominee for the U.S. presidency, as he seeks voters' backing in the state's primary on April 26. REUTERS/Brian Snyder SEARCH "BETHLEHEM STEEL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
At dusk the blast furnaces are lit up at the now-closed Bethlehem Steel mill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, U.S. April 21, 2016. After Bethlehem Steel's blast furnaces went silent 20 years ago in the city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the local economy bounced back as new industrial parks filled with e-commerce companies and white-collar businesses fleeing New York's higher costs. That adds to the challenge for Donald Trump, Republican nominee for the U.S. presidency, as he seeks voters' backing in the state's primary on April 26. REUTERS/Brian Snyder TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY SEARCH "BETHLEHEM STEEL" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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