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Ahead of a midnight deadline, President Trump has decided to extend tariff exemptions for European allies — but only for one month, the WSJ first reported and the White House confirmed.

Expand chart
Data: Census Bureau; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

The big picture: Trump isn’t just worried about China. The U.S. trade deficit with the EU has grown steadily — something Trump made sure to raise with German Chancellor Angela Merkel last Friday, and which had him considering opening a European front in his trade war.

The latest: Temporary exemptions from steel and aluminum tariffs granted to the EU, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Argentina and Brazil were due to expire at 12:01am. South Korea will get a permanent exemption, while the rest had their exemptions extended until June 1.

The backstory

The U.S. trade deficit with the EU ballooned from $17 billion in 1997 to $151.4 billion in 2017, and the driving force was German manufacturing. Last year, the U.S. bought $117.7 billion worth of imports from Germany — 27% of total imports from the EU.

  • The details: The major commodities the U.S. buys from Germany are cars and sophisticated machinery for factories. Trump has been particularly concerned by German autos, threatening steep tariffs.
  • The Germans have "made a very wealthy country on the backs of manufacturing," Thomas Duesterberg, a former Commerce Dept. assistant secretary for international economic policy now at the Hudson Institute, tells Axios. Germany is dependent on the U.S. market, and Merkel appears willing to work with Trump to address the trade deficit.

The bottom line: The European Union will be caught in the crossfire even if Trump aims his tariffs solely at China. And as the Trump administration threatens U.S. allies with tariffs, Beijing is courting European countries for support in case of a trade war.

The stakes

"We do need allies to take on China because it's so big now, and the subsidization and protectionism is so widespread," Duesterberg says. But Trump may alienate them.

  • Ahead of his visit to Washington, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Fox News Sunday: "It's too complicated if you make war against everybody. You make trade war against China, trade war against Europe, war in Syria, war against Iran. Come on. It doesn't work. You need allies. We are the ally."
  • The German government released a statement Sunday saying Merkel, Macron and U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May agree that the European Union is "prepared to defend its interests in the multilateral trade order."

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Mike Morhaime, who co-founded and worked at video game studio Blizzard for 28 years, has apologized publicly for toxic work conditions at his former studio, which is now the subject of a discrimination and harassment lawsuit by the state of California.

Why it matters: Morhaime is no longer at Blizzard, but was its leader for most of its existence and therefore was in charge when much of what is alleged in California’s suit would have occurred.

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Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs wears a facemask while preparing for the start of Super Bowl LV. Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The NFL will fine unvaccinated players $14,650 if they violate COVID-19 protocols this season, ESPN reports.

The big picture: The rule change comes two days after the NFL announced that postponed games due to coronavirus outbreaks among unvaccinated players or staffers will not be rescheduled and teams responsible for delays will automatically forfeit.