Steel, aluminum tariffs officially imposed on US allies

By |  June 1, 2018

President Trump Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

The Trump administration announced it will move forward with tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union (EU), all of which were previously exempt from the tariffs.

The tariffs – 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum – were originally imposed in March on the grounds of national security, as well as for leverage in renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement, otherwise known as NAFTA.

“The United States has been taken advantage of for many decades on trade,” President Donald Trump says in a statement. “Those days are over.”

Exemption from the Trump tariffs was set to expire Friday, June 1 and was not extended after failed negotiations for Canada, Mexico and the EU to accept quotas on steel and aluminum imports.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross contends that the increase of foreign imports threatened the domestic metals industry.

“Without a strong economy, you can’t have a strong national security,” Ross says. 

The decision from the Trump administration to impose the tariffs has been met with steadfast opposition from the involved parties.

“We are deeply disappointed that the U.S. has decided to apply tariffs to steel and aluminum imports from the EU on national security grounds,” Britain says in a statement. “The U.K. 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 aluminum. We will defend the U.K.’s interests robustly. We continue to work closely with our EU partners and will consider carefully the EU’s proposals in response.”

Both Mexico and Canada also issued similar statements speaking out against the newly imposed tariffs.

“Mexico has indicated on repeated occasions that this type of measure under the criteria of national security are not adequate nor justified,” the Mexican government says in a statement.

“Let me be clear: These tariffs are totally unacceptable,” says Justin Trudeau, Canadian prime minister. “For 150 years, Canada has been America’s most steadfast ally. That Canada could be considered a national security threat to the United States is inconceivable.”

Canada, Mexico and the EU are all expected to respond with retaliatory measures, causing concern over possible trade wars. Potential trade wars could, in turn, have a direct effect on the aggregate industry.

“The responsibility falls solely on to U.S. authorities,” says Bruno Le Maire, French finance minister. “Only they have to decide whether they want to enter a trade war with their closest partners.”

Despite the pushback, Ross says the U.S. is still interested in negotiating trade deals with Canada, Mexico and the EU.

“We continue to be quite willing, indeed eager, to have further discussions with all of these parties,” Ross says.

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