US slaps tariffs on steel and aluminium from the EU, Canada and Mexico

The United States is slapping a 25% tariff on steel and 10% tax on aluminium from the EU, Canada and Mexico.

The decision by the Trump administration to impose the tariffs on key allies comes only hours before the temporary exemptions would expire.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced the sanctions from Paris.

Ross had been in the French capital negotiating with EU leaders over the matter. He said the talks with Europe “have made some progress” but did not warrant further relief from tariffs.

“We look forward to continued negotiations both with Canada and Mexico on the one hand, and with the European Commission on the other hand, because there are other issues that we also need to get resolved,” Ross said.

The tariffs on the metals will take effect at midnight, Thursday, Ross said.

President Trump wrote in a proclamation announcing the measures:

“I concurred in the Secretary’s finding that steel mill articles are being imported into the United States in such quantities and under such circumstances as to threaten to impair the national security of the United States, and decided to adjust the imports of steel mill articles,”

The EU, Mexico and Canada are willing to retaliate

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said in a speech in Brussels that the EU would launch retaliatory action “in the coming hours”.

The EU had previously indicated that in the event of the tariffs going into force it would target approximately $3.3 billion in US products from Harley-Davidson motorcycles to Levi’s jeans and bourbon whiskey.

“This is a bad day for world trade,” Juncker said. “It’s totally unacceptable that a country is imposing unilateral measures when it comes to world trade. What they can do, we are able to do.”

Mexico’s Economy Ministry said the country would retaliate by targeting various US goods, including steel and pipe products, lamps, pork chops, cold cuts, apples, grapes, blueberries, and various cheese products “up to an amount comparable to the level of damage” of the US tariffs. Mexico said that its retaliatory duties on US imports would last for as long as the US duties.

The Canadian government said that the country would impose tariffs against up to C$16.6bn worth of imports of steel, aluminium, whiskey, orange juice and other US products. These tariffs are expected to take effect on 1 July.

“We are imposing dollar for dollar tariffs,” said Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign affairs minister.

Freeland added, “I want to be very clear about one thing: Americans remain our partners, friends, and allies. This is not about the American people. We have to believe that at some point their common sense will prevail. But we see no sign of that in this action today by the US administration.”

A hugely disappointing move that will hurt companies, said director of British Chambers of Commerce (BCC)

Adam Marshall, Director General of the BCC, said that the decision by the US was “hugely disappointing” and warned that the levies “will hurt companies and communities in many areas of the UK, as well as their customers in the US”.

“The UK government must reach out to and support the many supply chain businesses that face becoming the ‘collateral damage’ of the Trump administration’s protectionist push. British ministers must also work hand in hand with the EU to avoid any further escalation, and to find a long-term solution.”