Unable to win concessions from its trading partners ahead of the Friday deadline, the US has introduced tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union.
The new 25 percent tariff on steel imports and 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports from the EU, Canada and Mexico come into force at midnight (04:00 GMT, Friday), according to US Commerce Secretary Ross.
On its part, the EU will introduce swift counter-balancing measures to steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by the US, according to the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker.
“This is a bad day for world trade. So, we will immediately introduce a settlement dispute with the WTO and will announce counter-balancing measures in the coming hours,” Juncker said in a speech in Brussels. “It is totally unacceptable that a country is imposing unilateral measures when it comes to world trade.”
US Commerce Secretary Ross told reporters during a phone briefing: “We look forward to continued negotiations, both with Canada and Mexico on the one hand and with the European Commission on the other hand, because there are other issues that we also need to get resolved.” Ross offered little detail about what the enumerated states could do to have the tariffs lifted.
Earlier this week, Ross met with EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom and in Paris to discuss the issue as Brussels had been cherishing the hope for a positive outcome with no tariffs or quotas.
Moving ahead with the metal tariffs will escalate trade tensions, and potentially spark a trade war. The European Union and Canada have both pledged to retaliate.
The initial tariffs were announced in March after President Trump said that the US had been unfairly treated in trade with its neighboring and overseas partners. The US President had also threatened to respond to any new EU trade barriers with a tax on cars produced by European automakers.
According to Trump, the current trade trend is destroying the US steel and aluminum sectors. “People have no idea how badly our country has been treated by other countries. By people representing us who didn’t have a clue,” he said at the time.
The freshly introduced metal tariffs reportedly threaten €6.4 billion ($7.4 billion) worth of European exports to the US.
Previously Brussels pledged to retaliate the US protectionist steps with its own 25 percent tariffs on US products, including motorcycles, jeans cigarettes, cranberry juice and peanut butter. Earlier this week, German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz told Reuters that the EU’s response to the tariffs must be “clear, strong, and smart.”