World on brink of trade war as US slaps tariffs on EU, Canada and Mexico
The world’s largest economies stood on the brink of all-out trade war as the EU, Canada and Mexico drew up retaliatory measures to Washington’s stinging steel and aluminum tariffs that came into effect on Friday.
Washington angered its major allies by slapping duties of 25 percent and 10 percent on imports of aluminum and steel.
The measures had actually been decided back in March, but at the time US President Donald Trump gave Canada and the EU – the biggest sources of foreign aluminum and steel respectively for the US – a grace period until May 31.
On Thursday, however, Trump announced that those exemptions were not being extended, and his decision immediately drew furious responses from Canadian President Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.
“These tariffs are an affront to the long standing security partnership between Canada and the US,” said Trudeau, as Ottawa hit back with retal- iatory duties on US imports worth up to C$16.6 billion ($12.8 billion).
EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker said the 28-nation bloc “will announce in the next coming hours counter-balancing measures” in response to the US action.
Brussels has previously threatened to slap tariffs on US products including bourbon, motorcycles and blue jeans.
French President Macron told Trump in a telephone call that the tariffs were “illegal” and said Europe would respond in a “firm and proportionate manner.”
And speaking to reporters, Macron described the US move as “a mistake in many ways because it responds to existing international imbalances in the worst way – by breaking up and creating economic nationalism.
In Berlin, Chancellor Merkel said the measure “risks touching off spirals of escalation that in the end hurt everyone.”