USA hits EU, Mexico and Canada with steel, aluminum tariffs

'We think on the contrary that global trade must have rules in a context of multilateralism.

Gareth Stace said the European Union needed to impose safeguards to curb Chinese steel once destined for the USA that will now be heading to Europe.

European officials had braced for the tariffs and the EU has threatened to retaliate against US orange juice, peanut butter and other goods in return.

However, reports have suggested that last-minute talks in Paris had failed, with Wilbur Ross, the US Commerce Secretary, indicating that he was poised to impose the tariffs. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire pledged that the European response would be "united and firm".

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, whom Ross was scheduled to meet in Paris on Thursday morning, said on Wednesday that the European Union did not want a trade war either but would respond if Washington imposed tariffs.

The EU would take "all necessary measures" to respond if the USA did impose tariffs, Mr Le Maire warned.

"This is protectionism, pure and simple".

Starting Friday, steel imports from those countries will be subject to a 25% tariff, and aluminum imports will be hit with a 10% tariff.

Trump's announcement lifted American steel and aluminum stocks because those companies stand to benefit from penalties against their foreign competitors.

The EU said it will file a case against the United States at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and take retaliatory action, most likely in the form of reciprocal tariffs.

"Ultimately they do have a gun held to their head - they're being. pushed into a corner", said Mr Stace.

"We have made clear to the US Government at the highest levels the importance of United Kingdom steel and aluminium to its businesses and defence projects". Some observers say a G6-plus-one scenario is already shaping up, with U.S. President Donald Trump as the outlier.

"We continue to be quite willing and indeed eager to have further discussions", Ross said.

If the tariffs go into effect, the USA would levy a 25% tax on European steel and 10% tax on the bloc's aluminium. In turn, the Beer Institute estimated that the increased costs would force brewers to save money in other areas, such as laying off workers, or drive up their prices for consumers.

Tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum will take effect at midnight Thursday on imports from the three USA trading partners.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom and Japanese Economy Minister Hiroshige Seko on Thursday warned against such a measure, saying it would cause "serious turmoil in the global markets". South Korea also received a permanent exemption from steel tariffs, having negotiated instead an absolute quota equivalent to 70 percent of 2015-2017 imports.

The Trump administration announced on Thursday that it would impose tariffs on metals imported from its closest allies, a measure that could provoke retaliation against American businesses. The administration is separately moving ahead with tariffs on Chinese goods.

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