Trump pushes ahead with metals tariffs against EU, Canada and Mexico

Commerce Secretary Ross Brings EU to the Negotiating Table with Tariff Threats
Trump to impose steel, aluminium tariffs on EU - report

31 May, 2018

President Donald Trump imposed a 25 per cent tariff on steel imports and a 10 per cent tariff on aluminium in March, but granted temporary exemptions to the European Union and five other countries.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also said the EU would respond with penalties of its own on US exports. "This is protectionism, pure and simple", Juncker said.

The announcement by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was sure to cast a long shadow over a meeting of finance ministers from the world's Group of Seven top economies that opens later in the day in Canada.

The administration says the tariffs (25% for steel imports, and 10% for aluminum imports) are being applied because reliance on imports is damaging USA "national security". The European Commission said that specific countermeasures would come Friday.

The Trump administration announced that the U.S will impose tariffs on steel, aluminum imports from Europe, Canada and Mexico, as a previously designated exemption expires tonight at midnight.

The new tariffs will also affect USA imports from Mexico and the European Union.

"The EU believes these unilateral USA tariffs are unjustified and at odds with World Trade Organization rules".

"The talks are taking longer than we had hoped".

European leaders have declared a "bad day for world trade" after the USA announced it will impose tariffs on metal imports from the EU.

"We would operate within (multilateral) frameworks if we were convinced that people would move quickly", he said.

For instance, the Beer Institute - an industry group that represents United States brewers - warned that aluminum tariffs would drive up prices of beer cans. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said after a meeting with Ross that the imposition of steel and aluminum tariffs would be a step into risky territory. "Even worse, we face the risk of being harmed by a redirection of aluminium from third countries that are targeted by the USA measures".

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Thursday that U.S. tariffs would be unjustified and risky for growth and free trade.

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"We are prepared to react in a united and clear way whatever the decision of the (U.S.) president", he said.

And so the administration chose to lift the exemption from the tariffs for those countries. A spokeswoman for the Élysée Palace did not immediately return request for comment.

If Canada and Mexico choose to take retaliatory measures, it will not affect the ability to keep renegotiating NAFTA as a separate track, he added.

On Thursday afternoon, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had no immediate comment on Trump's decision.

Some stocks of US companies that could be adversely affected by the tariffs, or by possible retaliatory action against the USA, headed down. "He should stop this nonsense".

Financial markets fell amid fears of a trade war. Tariffs will remain on imports from Japan.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who pushed the steel and NAFTA issues during her meeting on Tuesday in Washington with USA trade czar Robert Lighthizer, has also made it clear that Canada would retaliate if the duties are imposed.

"Without a strong economy you can't have strong national security", Ross said. The administration is separately moving ahead with tariffs on Chinese goods.

Not even the US's closest allies can avoid getting caught in President Donald Trump's escalating trade battles. Both Europe and the United States, he said, would suffer the consequences. "We will respond appropriately", she said.

"Let's see what evolves as things go forward".

Ross criticized the European Union for its tough negotiating position.

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