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US to push steel, aluminum tariffs on EU, Canada and Mexico

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U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross leaves his hotel in Beijing

The announcement was made by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

The 25% tariffs on steel and 10% on aluminium will begin at midnight.

"The responsibility falls exclusively on to USA authorities", Le Maire said. And last week, he ordered an investigation into auto imports to the United States that could lead to 25-per-cent tariffs on cars and trucks, which would disproportionately hit Canada; about 80 per cent of Canadian-made vehicles are for the US market.

"It's not everyone attacking the other and we see who remains standing at the end", he said, declaring that the stiff taxes would be "unjustified, unjustifiable and dangerous".

One source close to the NAFTA negotiations said Ms. Freeland informed Mr. Lighthizer that ending Canada's exemption on steel and aluminum tariffs would be a clear signal that the Americans are not that interested in reaching a NAFTA deal.

"Realistically, I do not think we can hope" to avoid either USA tariffs or quotas on steel and aluminum, said Cecilia Malmstrom, the European Union's trade commissioner.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas meanwhile warned against the threat of protectionism, telling reporters Thursday that global partners could have "no interest in the clock being turned back" on trade policy.

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Getting rid of the exemptions for Canada and Mexico, meanwhile, could complicate ongoing negotiations on NAFTA.

Ross spoke with top European Union officials in Paris Wednesday as part of a two-day meeting. Earlier this week, there were reports that the talks might be canceled following Trump's renewed threat to impose import taxes on $50 billion in Chinese products.

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

But Jacob Kirkegaard, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, told AFP that the agenda Canada, the current G7 chair, set for the meeting - which included uncontroversial themes such as inclusive development and innovation in finance - would be swept aside amid raw relations between America and its traditional allies. "There is no longer a very precise date when they may be concluded and therefore they were added into the list of those who will bear tariffs", explained Ross on a background call with reporters Thursday morning.

Trump in March announced global tariffs of 25 percent on imports of steel, and 10 percent on aluminum, citing national security concerns, but has delayed enacting them for some countries, giving them time to offer concessions.

Europe did not want a trade war, he said, but Washington had to back down from "unjustified, unjustifiable and risky tariffs". "Without a strong economy, you can't have a strong national security", Ross said.

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