Trump imposes tariffs on the closest allies, Mexico and Europe announce reprisals



President Trump imposed steel and aluminum tariffs imported from the European Union, Canada and Mexico on Thursday, causing immediate retaliation by US allies against US companies and farmers.

Rates: 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum. will come into force at midnight on Thursday, marking a major escalation of the US-US trade war. UU and its main commercial partners.

In response, the EU said it would impose tariffs "on a number of US imports," referring to a list of 10 pages of targets for reprisals it published in March, which included Kentucky bourbon and Harley-Davidson motorcycles. European leaders also promised to file a complaint with the World Trade Organization.

"This is protectionism, pure and simple," said Jean-Claude Junker, president of the European Commission.

The Mexican government said it would raise import taxes on exports of pork belly, cranberries, apples, grapes, certain cheeses and various types of steel.

President Trump had announced rates in March, but granted temporary exemptions to several United States allies while negotiating possible limits on shipments to the United States.

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said the president acted for reasons of national security. tide of imports as a threat to the national metals industry. "Without a strong economy, you can not have strong national security," Ross said.

Officials of the three business partners, among Washington's closest allies for decades, have ruled out the idea that their shipments to US customers would endanger the United States. States and some prominent Republicans attacked him as evil .

"This is silly, Europe, Canada and Mexico are not China, and allies are not treated the same way opponents are treated," said Senator Ben Sbade (R-Neb.). "We have come this way before: general protectionism is a big part of why the United States had a Great Depression." Make America Great Again "should not mean" Make America 1929 Again. & # 39;

The United States negotiated voluntary export limits with several other friendly nations, including South Korea, Argentina, Australia and Brazil, and Ross said he intends to continue talks with European diplomats and officials from Canada and Mexico, but that are likely to be controversial.

"We remain very willing, indeed anxious, to have more discussions with all these parties," Ross told reporters, speaking from Paris where he attends meetings at the Organization for Cooperation and Development. Economic. The action on Thursday is expected to complicate US efforts to confront China over trade practices that the administration considers unfair. The United States. shares many of Washington's concerns about China's efforts to acquire advanced technology through compulsory licensing practices, cyber-bullying and other measures.

But European officials are increasingly irritated by Trump's aggressive use of the obscure provisions of United States trade laws against United States allies.

"We are deeply disappointed that the US has decided to impose tariffs on steel imports and security reasons." The United Kingdom and other countries of the European Union are close allies of the United States and must remain permanently exempt from US measures on steel and aluminum, "the United Kingdom said in a statement. "We will defend the interests of the United Kingdom in a robust manner, continue to work closely with our EU partners and carefully consider the EU proposals in response."

President Emmanuel Macron has formulated Trump's tariffs as a "nationalist reduction" reminiscent of Europe in the 1930s.

Germany perhaps more than losing among the EU nations, if the dispute turns into a war full-fledged commercial.

Although the US market. UU Represents a low single-digit percentage of the production of the German steel industry,

German politicians and industrial groups have expressed concern that eye-for-eye measures could end in tariffs harmful to foreign cars, a result that Trump has repeatedly threatened.

The administration began a commercial investigation into vehicle imports in early May, with the possibility of ending in tariffs on foreign vehicles justified by the same "national security" provision used to implement metal tariffs.

While Thursday's action hailed US steel producers, companies that use imported metals, said they jeopardized US employment and investment. UU Auto parts manufacturers said they trust global supply chains and can sometimes buy their specialty steels and aluminum from one or two sources around the world.

"Our members may have to pay double fees on some materials needed to manufacture parts in the United States," said a statement from the Association of engine and equipment manufacturers. "Industries like ours, which require long-term investments in facilities and employees, depend on regulatory stability and the market, and these actions have thrown all that into the air."

Trump was also attacked by members of his own party, which generally favor less trade restrictions. "Bad news that @POTUS has decided to impose taxes on American consumers who buy steel and aluminum from our closest allies: Canada, the EU and Mexico (with whom we have a trade surplus in steel)," Senator Patrick Toomey tweeted. (R-Pa.). "In addition to the higher prices, these rates invite retaliation."

Ross, meanwhile, said he still plans to go to China on Friday for the resumption of trade talks. Earlier this week, there were reports that the talks could be canceled after Trump's renewed threat of imposing import taxes on $ 50 billion in Chinese products.

James McAuley contributed reports from Paris and Griff Witte reported from Berlin.

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