USA to push steel, aluminum tariffs on EU, Canada and Mexico

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told reporters on a telephone briefing that a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports from the EU, Canada and Mexico would go into effect at midnight.

Canada, Mexico and Europe were exempted from import duties of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum when they were first imposed in March, but those exemptions will expire on Friday.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that Washington would allow the European Union exemption to expire, after weeks of talks failed to yield a compromise, such as a quota arrangement.

Talks with the European Union made some progress, but not enough to warrant a permanent exemption or another temporary exemption, he said.

US and European officials held last-ditch talks in Paris to try to reach a deal, though hopes are low and fears of a trade war are mounting.

'But they can also increase costs more broadly for US manufacturers who cannot source all their needs locally and have to import the materials. That hurts the companies and can lead to more expensive consumer prices, economists say. We have worked in an extremely intensive manner in recent weeks to avoid the increase in tariffs, to allow for an evolution towards freer markets.

"It makes it really hard to believe that deliberations are in good faith if you're taking capricious actions like this that really hurt the other parties", he said.

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When China targeted key US imports in retaliation against USA tariffs on $50 billion (37.5 billion pounds) of Chinese goods in April, Trump ordered USA officials to identify a further $100 billion of Chinese products the United States could hit.

"We believe these tariffs aren't compatible with WTO rules", she said in Lisbon.

The move will likely trigger serious retaliation from the three countries and push the U.S. to the edge of a trade war. NAFTA negotiations are deadlocked over tough protectionist demands from the United States. He noted that "China has not used that as an excuse not to negotiate".

Referring to the on again off again trade talks between Washington and Beijing, Mr Ross said: "China is an interesting case in point". "It's not about who attacks whom, and then wait and see who is still standing at the end".

"This is a bad day for the world trade", he stressed. "We are ready to rebuild this multilateralism with our American friends", he said.

The agency issued a report Wednesday saying "the threat of trade restrictions has begun to adversely affect confidence" and tariffs "would negatively influence investment and jobs".

  • Darren Santiago