U.S. to impose steel, aluminum tariffs on EU, Canada, Mexico

The three allies were previously given temporary exemptions from the duties - 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum.

US Trade Secretary Wilbur Ross immediately responded to the criticism of Washington's transatlantic partners, saying that the EU's retaliation for the introduction of metal tariffs was unlikely to have much impact on the US economy.

The US decision to enact the steel and aluminum tariffs comes after European Union trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström and US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross met in Paris on Wednesday.

With negotiations going nowhere, Trump made a decision to go forward with the tariffs.

Economists say the standoff with the European Union could tip toward a trade war, particularly after Trump last week launched another national security investigation into auto and truck imports that could lead to new United States tariffs.

"The responsibility falls exclusively on to United States authorities", Le Maire said.

The move will likely trigger serious retaliation from the three countries and push the United States to the edge of a trade war.

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"It makes it really hard to believe that deliberations are in good faith if you're taking capricious actions like this that really hurt the other parties", he said.

The U.S. had delayed imposing the tariffs on Canada and Mexico pending talks on NAFTA and related national security issues, Ross said.

Tariffs on steel and aluminum imports to the USA can help local producers of the metals by making foreign products more expensive. But they can also increase costs more broadly for USA manufacturers who cannot source all their steel locally and need to import the raw material.

By increasing the cost of imported steel and aluminum, companies that rely on the metals will be forced to either accept the higher costs and lower profits or pass on the price increase to consumers. As have been released publicly, those talks are taking longer than we had hoped. But German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier insisted the Europeans were ready to negotiate special trade arrangements, notably for liquefied natural gas and industrial goods, including cars.

Not even the US's closest allies can avoid getting caught in President Donald Trump's escalating trade battles. "It's not about who attacks whom, and then wait and see who is still standing at the end".

The tariffs, which have prompted several challenges at the World Trade Organization, are aimed at allowing the US steel and aluminium industries to increase their capacity utilization rates above 80 percent for the first time in years.

"We would operate within (multilateral) frameworks if we were convinced that people would move quickly", he said.

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