USA will impose tariffs on aluminium and steel exports from Europe, Canada, and Mexico, which resulted in immediate announcements of countermeasures with the countries calling the move from the US “illegal” and damaging for everyone, agencies reported on Thursday.
US Trade Minister Wilbur Ross said to the press that the 25 percent tariffs on steel imports and 10 percent tariffs on aluminium imports would take effect on Friday midnight.
“We expect the negotiations will continue, with Canada and Mexico as well as with the European Commission, because there are other outstanding issues to resolve,” Ross said at a press conference on Thursday.
US President Donald Trump imposed the tariffs in March, but granted exemptions to the European Union until June 1, along with Canada and Mexico, while Argentina, Australia and Brazil were granted a permanent exemption.
The European Commission, in charge of the bloc’s trade politics, wanted a permanent exemption from the tariffs, saying the EU was an ally who was not responsible for global overproduction of steel and aluminium.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the American measures were “illegal”, adding she was worried the situation could escalate.
“The German government dismisses these tariffs,” Merkel said in a press release, adding that the decision to impose them “carries with it a risk of escalation which could damage everyone in the long term.”
The German industrialists’ association BDI said that President Trump’s move was “short-sighted and autodestructive.”
“The American President is risking reverting the transatlantic relations decades back, by escalating a trade war he himself started,” head of BDI Dieter Kempf said.
The British government said it was disappointed by the American decision.
“Great Britain and EU members are close American allies and should be permanently exempt from the American tariffs,” Downing Street spokesperson said.
French Foreign Ministry senior official Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne called the tariffs “unjust and unwarranted,” and called on Brussels to respond.
“France does not approve these unjust measures,” Lemoyne said to the press, adding that the US response to “the need to reform international trade” was poor.