International News

US imposes hefty tariffs on steel, aluminium imports from key allies

The European Union, Canada, and Mexico called it ‘protectionism, pure and simple’, and promised to retaliate.

The United States on Thursday imposed tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from key allies the Europe Union, Canada and Mexico, Reuters reported. The Donald Trump-administration said it has imposed a 25% tax on steel and 10% on aluminium from its allies.

With this, the US has put more tariffs on its own allies than on China.

The tariffs will hit products such as plated steel, slabs, coil, rolls of aluminium, tubes and raw materials that are used across manufacturing, construction and the oil sector in America. US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who announced the sanctions, said President Trump has the authority to lift the tariffs or alter them at any time. “We continue to be quite willing and indeed eager to have discussions with all those parties,” Ross said.

Canada, European Union and Mexico called the tariffs “protectionism, pure and simple”, and promised to retaliate. The United Kingdom also said it was “deeply disappointed” by the US’ decision.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom called it a “bad day for world trade”. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the move was “totally unacceptable”, adding that the bloc has “no choice” but to bring a case before the World Trade Organization and impose duties on US imports.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the tariffs were an affront to US-Canada relations. Like the European Commission president, Trudeau also said that they may challenge the move at the World Trade Organization. “We have to believe that at some point common sense will prevail but we see no sign of that in this [US’] action today,” he said, according to BBC.

Trudeau added that Toronto will levy tariffs on US products worth about $13 billion (approximately Rs 87,426 crore) from July 1. The Canadian government released two lists of US products that includes steel, aluminium, orange juice, maple syrup, whiskey and toilet paper.

Mexico’s Economy Ministry, on the other hand, said it may levy tariffs on steel, pork legs and shoulders, apples, grapes, blueberries and cheese.

Trump had announced plans for tariffs on foreign steel and aluminium in March. The US cited Section 232(b) of its Trade Expansion Act, 1962, to levy hefty tariffs to protect American steel producers. This provision of the law gives the US commerce secretary the right to investigate whether certain imports pose a threat to national security. But the US granted temporary exemptions to the EU, Canada and Mexico amid negotiations.

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