Published: Thu, May 31, 2018
Money | By Ethel Goodwin

United States trade tensions at fever pitch as steel deadline looms

United States trade tensions at fever pitch as steel deadline looms

The decision, announced by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, came hours before these temporary exemptions were due to elapse at 12:01am in Washington on Friday.

He said he's still planning to make a trip to Beijing this weekend even after the US announced it would slap tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods, jeopardizing a fragile agreement to reduce the USA trade deficit with China.

Trade tensions between the European Union and the United States have been running high since March when US President Donald Trump introduced a 25-percent tariff on imported steel and a 10-percent tariff on imported aluminum.

United States tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from allies in Europe and North America are "disappointing" and "absurd", the UK trade secretary says.

"It's entirely up to US authorities whether they want to enter into a trade conflict with their biggest partner, Europe", Le Maire told reporters after meeting Ross in Paris. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said that "Our US friends must know that if they were to take aggressive actions against Europe, Europe would not be without reaction".

"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 risky".

The EU has threatened to impose retaliatory tariffs on US orange juice, peanut butter and other goods in return. The government has also revealed plans to add 40 additional Customs and Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers to look into trade complaints, and given the department new powers to identify and combat companies that evade import duties. They are expected to lead to retaliation from European nations.

The U.S. Beer Institute says its members, which includes Denver and Montreal-based Molson Coors Brewing Co., are united against the tariffs on imported aluminum.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called the US tariffs "unjustified, unjustifiable and risky".

During a speech in Brussels, Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, promised to announce retaliatory sanctions later on Thursday. But if realDonaldTrump decides to treat Europe as an enemy, we will have no choice but to defend European industry, jobs & interests.

"These tariffs will harm industries and workers on both sides of the Canada-US border and will disrupt supply chains that have made North American steel more competitive across the globe", Trudeau said.

Tata Steel has urged the EU to take "swift and robust action" in response to a USA decision to impose a 25% tariff on European steel. "This is protectionism, pure and simple".

He reiterated the USA concerns over the indirect flow of cheap Chinese steel into the US through other countries.

"Without a strong economy you can't have strong national security", Ross said.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire termed the U.S. tariffs as "unjustified unjustifiable and dangerous".

Dow Jones components Boeing (BA) and Caterpillar (CAT), heavy steel users vulnerable in a trade war, fell more than 1%.

Trump announced worldwide steel and aluminum tariffs in March but granted exemptions to some major trading partners.

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