German automakers sell thousands of vehicles in the United States, many of which are made in USA factories.
But the European Union talked tough.
In response, the European Union has pleaded to be exempt from the tariffs and threatened retaliation if the tariffs go ahead. "We want our workers to be protected and we want, frankly, our companies to be protected".
It would depend on the response of other major United States trading partners; namely, the EU, China, and South Korea.
The tariffs are due to take effect within weeks.
"As long-standing security partners of the United States, (the European Union and Japan) underlined to ambassador Lighthizer their expectation that European Union and Japanese exports to the U.S. would be exempted from the application of higher tariffs", an European Union statement said after the talks.
Among the leaders to speak with Trump about trade have been French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Argentinian President Mauricio Macri, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
"Tariffs won't start a trade war, there's 435 of them in place today to fight trade cheaters. The outcome will only be harmful", he said on the sidelines of an annual meeting of China's parliament.
"China should fire back with a tit-for-tat response".
A United States flag is seen during a welcoming ceremony in Beijing, China.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that the USA had pressured China to cut its trade surplus with the U.S. by US$100 billion a year when top economic adviser Liu He went to Washington last week.
US President Donald Trump shows his signature on Section 232 Proclamations on Steel and Aluminum Imports
"Countries with low steel tariffs could be good export markets for these producers", he said, according to a Farsi report by ICANA.
Data on Thursday showed Chinese exports were up 44.5 percent in February from a year earlier.
It has also opened the door to a slew of complaints to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which has never ruled on a dispute involving trade restrictions justified on national-security grounds.
Right now it is unlikely that the Republican-led Congress can muster up enough votes to block Mr Trump.
But he exempted Canada and Mexico and held out the possibility of excluding other allies.
President Donald Trump was sounding upbeat about NAFTA on Thursday, despite predictions that Canada could lose thousands of jobs if renegotiation talks fail.
In Brussels, European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen said he had read that Britain might be in line for an exemption too.
Other officials at the EU, by far the biggest trading partner of the United States by value, have warned it could take counter-measures including European tariffs on USA oranges, tobacco and bourbon. "So the reason we have to go on a broader basis is to deal with the problems of transshipment and the problems of displacement". "We're going to be very fair, we're going to be very flexible, but we're going to protect the American worker - as I said I would do in my campaign".
Brazil, which after Canada is the biggest steel supplier to the USA market, said it wanted to join the list.
"He is committed to having a very fair and reciprocal military and trade relationship", Trump tweeted.
Canada is dealing with a president who has "appealed to the basest instincts" of rust-belt voters to whom he has promised great things, Fast said.