U.S. Imposes Steel and Aluminum Tariffs on EU, Canada, and Mexico

Muriel Colon
May 31, 2018

Those exemptions will expire at midnight tonight.

Mexico said it would penalize US imports including pork bellies, apples, grapes, cheeses and flat steel.

Meanwhile, the commerce secretary said he plans to go to China for trade talks on Friday, another country with which the USA has developed an extremely tense relationship over trade differences under the Trump administration. The move marks the Trump administration's most aggressive trade action yet against major US trading partners, which had been asking for permanent relief.

The EU had said it wouldn't make trade concessions to gain a permanent exemption, and vowed to respond firmly to the imposition of tariffs. "Sorry, it's time for a change", said Trump.

The EU has threatened to impose retaliatory tariffs on US orange juice, peanut butter and other goods in return. It could also place the United States in a trade dispute on more than one front.

On Twitter, Manfred Weber, the leader of the European People's Party in the European Parliament said Europe had "no choice" but to defend itself.

The U.S. Beer Institute says its members, which includes Denver and Montreal-based Molson Coors Brewing Co., are united against the tariffs on imported aluminum.

On Wednesday, the Trudeau government said it would take additional steps to prevent foreign steel and aluminum from being dumped into the North American market - news that appeared created to try to head off the tariff decision.

The tariffs come as Group of Seven finance ministers including U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and central bank governors prepare to meet in Whistler, Canada.

More than 60 percent of USA auto imports - an industry that closely binds U.S. and Canadian manufacturing - come from G7 countries, as well as more than 50 percent of aluminium imports and almost 36 percent of steel.

Mexico announced in a statement Thursday it would retaliate against the United States by imposing "equivalent measures" on products such as "flat steel, lamps, pork and numerous produce items until the U.S. eliminates the imposed tariffs". "This is protectionism, pure and simple", Juncker said.

The E.U. shares many of Washington's concerns about China's efforts to acquire advanced technology through compulsory licensing practices, cybertheft and other measures.

This marks a big step closer to a global trade war.

Susan Danger, CEO of the American Chambers of Commerce to the European Union, said she is "very concerned by the damage a tit-for-tat dispute would cause to the transatlantic economy and its impact on jobs, investment and security across the Atlantic". The action was mainly targeted at China over accusations of flooding the global market with cut-rate metals and dragging down prices.

Europe did not want a trade war, he said, but Washington had to back down from "unjustified, unjustifiable and unsafe tariffs". The EU issued a 10-page list in March of potential products to levy, including stainless steel sinks, rice, orange juice and more.

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