Trump Hits Mexico, Canada and the European Union with Strict Steel, Aluminum Tariffs

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The U.S. will impose tariffs on steel and aluminum from the European Union, Canada and Mexico, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced Thursday morning.

A steep 25 percent tariff on foreign-made steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum will go into effect at midnight, he told reporters, explaining that negotiations failed to make enough progress to warrant a permanent exception.

The EU, Canada and Mexico were temporarily granted an exception after President Donald Trump announced the Section 232 tariffs in March.

The move risks a potential trade war with a number of key allies and international partners, some of which have already threatened to retaliate.

The EU will take “all necessary measures” to respond to American trade actions should the U.S. decide to levy “unjustified and dangerous” tariffs, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire previously warned, the BBC reported.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed Thursday that the EU would give a “smart, determined and jointly agreed” response to U.S. actions.

“We have a clear stance within the European Union,” she explained.

The EU has threatened to impose billions of dollars in tariffs on American exports, such as whiskey and motorcycles.

Canada and Mexico, which are currently in negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement, have similarly hinted at retaliatory actions.

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Ross explained the tariffs are intended to defend American national security interests.

“We take the view that without a strong economy, you can’t have strong national security,” the secretary said.

He previously suggested that targeted countries should come to the table and negotiate with the U.S. fairly on trade to secure permanent exceptions from tariffs.

“We look forward to continued negotiations, both with Canada and Mexico on the one hand, and with the European Commission on the other hand, because there are other issues that we also need to get resolved,” Ross said Thursday, without going into details about what the EU, Canada and Mexico could do to avoid tariffs.

While the primary focus is China, the Trump administration remains committed to addressing overcapacity and dumping concerns in other countries as well.

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