EU and Mexico retaliate against Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs with duties of their own
“This is protectionism, pure and simple.” That’s the reaction from the European Commission’s president to the U.S. decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the European Union.
Jean-Claude Juncker says the EU will respond with countermeasures.
He says the U.S. action leaves the EU with no choice but to proceed with a case in the World Trade Organization. He says the EU will impose additional duties on a number of imports from the U.S.
Mexico says it will answer tariffs on steel and aluminum announced by the Trump administration with duties of its own on a variety of U.S. products, including pork bellies, apples, grapes, cheeses and flat steel among other things.
A statement from Mexico’s economy ministry says the U.S. use of a national security justification is improper and that the tariffs affect strategic sectors for North America, including automotive, aerospace and electronics.
President Trump is imposing steep tariffs on steel and aluminum from three of America’s biggest trading partners — Canada, Mexico and the European Union.
The trade penalties, 25% on imported steel and 10% on imported aluminum, take effect at midnight, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told reporters Thursday.
Canada, Mexico and the EU had been granted temporary exemptions from those tariffs while the United States pursued negotiations to address the administration’s concerns about the state of domestic steel and aluminum production. The negotiations had a Friday deadline.
Trump’s decision could raise prices for Americans on a range of everyday products. It could also place the United States in a trade dispute on more than one front. The administration is separately moving ahead with tariffs on Chinese goods.
Europe had promised swift retaliation if it was hit with the trade penalties, and had warned it could quickly respond with 25% tariffs on US products such as motorcycles, denim, cigarettes, cranberry juice and peanut butter.
The US decision to enact the steel and aluminum tariffs comes after EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström and Ross met in Paris on Wednesday.
Getting rid of the exemptions for Canada and Mexico, meanwhile, could complicate ongoing negotiations on NAFTA. Canada had also pledged to retaliate.
“Should restrictions be imposed on Canadian steel and aluminum products, Canada will take responsive measures to defend its trade interests and workers,” Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said in March.
Canada was the largest exporter of steel to the United States by value last year, according to data from Wood Mackenzie. Mexico was the third largest, behind South Korea.
The Trump administration said Tuesday that it is moving forward with tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods as punishment for intellectual property theft.
The Chinese government said the announcement was “obviously in violation of the consensus reached in Washington recently by both China and the United States.” Both parties had previously said that tariffs would be put on hold as talks continued.
Ross is scheduled to go to China this weekend for a third round of negotiations.
The United States is also exploring the possibility of putting new tariffs on cars. Last week, The Trump administration announced an investigation into whether automobile imports are hurting US national security, laying the groundwork for another trade fight.
Such an action could hurt Mexico, Canada, Germany and Japan.