European Union to impose measures against 'unacceptable' United States metal tariffs

31 May, 2018, 22:02 | Author: Teresa Adams
  • President Donald Trump speaks during a Memorial Day

Trump imposed the tariffs in March after his U.S. Commerce Department declared that steel and aluminum imports undermine the country's manufacturing base and threaten national security.

British manufacturers sold 350,00 tonnes of steel to the United States previous year, which made up 7% of their exports.

Freeland is making the announcement alongside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau following word from the White House that the USA will slap tariffs on Canadian, Mexican and European Union steel and aluminium as of midnight tonight.

The 25-percent levy on steel and 10-percent tariff on aluminum will go into effect at midnight.

Protecting the U.S. steel industry might help United States workers in the short-term, but if the USA is unable to make steel as cheaply as foreign rivals have been able to, then American manufacturers would also face higher costs. Minutes before, prime minister had declared the USA measures "completely unacceptable".

The statement criticised the USA use of a national security justification as "improper" and said the tariffs will affect key USA industries, including the automotive, aerospace and electronics sectors.

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Canada is imposing dollar-for-dollar tariff "countermeasures" on up to $16.6 billion worth of US imports in response to the American decision to make good on its threat of similar tariffs against Canadian-made steel and aluminum.

In contrast to France, Germany - Europe's largest economy - has taken a milder tone since March, seeking to be a peacemaker in the negotiations, downplaying talk of retaliation and seeking to keep both sides talking. He reiterated the US concerns over the indirect flow of cheap Chinese steel into the USA through other countries.

Stocks in the U.S. fell as the administration ignored the pleas from business lobbying groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to forego tariffs.

But European officials are increasingly irritated by Trump's aggressive use of obscure provisions in USA trade laws against US allies.

During a speech in Brussels, Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, promised to announce retaliatory sanctions later on Thursday.

But the European Union refused, repeatedly insisting that it must be permanently exempted from the new tariffs before any further negotiations could take place. Therefore, as of June 1, 2018, tariffs will no longer be suspended for steel or aluminum imports from those countries.

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"Unilateral trade tariffs are always a negative sum game", he said on Twitter. "The UK and other European Union countries are close allies of the U.S. and should be permanently and fully exempted from the American measures on steel and aluminium", Britain said in a statement. Likely targets are thought to be USA exports of jeans, motorcycles and bourbon.

The U.S. action widens a rift with America's closest allies, threatens to drive up prices for companies and consumers that buy steel and aluminum, heightens uncertainty for businesses and is already alarming investors in global financial markets.

But he said those talks were taking longer that "we had hoped".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed her opposition even before the USA announcement, saying the looming tariffs were incompatible with World Trade Organization rules.

The head of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce called on Canada to retaliate against the US move. The European Union would respond with "all necessary measures" if the United States imposed them.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the European Union would give a "smart, determined and jointly agreed" response to the new tariffs that she said would break WTO rules.

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