US trade tariffs prompt threats
THE Trump administration has delivered a gut punch to America’s closest allies, imposing tariffs on steel and aluminium from Europe, Mexico and Canada in a move that drew immediate vows of retaliation.
Share prices slumped amid fears of a trade war, with the Dow Jones industrial average falling nearly 1 per cent.
The duties threaten to drive up prices for US consumers and companies and are likely to heighten uncertainty for businesses around the world. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the tariffs – 25 per cent on imported steel and 10 per cent on aluminium – would take effect immediately.
President Donald Trump had originally imposed the tariffs in March, saying a reliance on imported metals threatened national security.
But he exempted Canada, Mexico and the European Union to buy time for negotiations, a reprieve that expired at midnight on Thursday.
Other countries, including Japan, are already paying the tariffs. Australia and Argentina are excluded from the tariff increases. The US will place quotas or volume limits on steel and aluminium from them instead. The administration’s actions drew fire from Europe, Canada and Mexico.
“This is protectionism, pure and simple,” said Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission.
French President Emmanuel Macron called the US decision to levy tariffs on the European Union “illegal” and a “mistake”.
The EU threatened to counterpunch by targeting US products, including Kentucky bourbon, blue jeans and motorcycles.
Mexico complained the tariffs would “distort international trade” and said it would penalise US imports, including pork, apples, grapes, cheeses and flat steel.
Canada announced plans to slap tariffs on $C16.6 billion ($16.93 billion) worth of US products.
“Canada is a secure supplier of aluminium and steel to the US defence industry, putting aluminium in American planes and steel in American tanks,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
“That Canada could be considered a national security threat to the United States is inconceivable.” Mr Trump had campaigned to crack down on trading partners he said exploited poorly negotiated agreements to run up big trade surpluses with the US.
The tariffs could complicate the Trump administration’s separate trade fight with Beijing.
THAT CANADA COULD BE CONSIDERED A NATIONAL SECURITY THREAT TO THE UNITED STATES IS INCONCEIVABLE CANADA PM JUSTIN TRUDEAU