Canada hits back at USA steel, aluminum tariffs with 'countermeasures'

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The U.S. decision to proceed with steel and aluminum tariffs adds a new wrinkle to one of its other most pressing trade files: NAFTA talks with Canada and Mexico.

Trump imposed the tariffs in March after the Commerce Department declared that steel and aluminum imports undermine the country's manufacturing base and threaten national security. When Trump initially announced the tariffs on March 1, the stocks of major automakers and other manufacturing industries dropped the same day.

In the case of Canada and Mexico, the US had hoped to address its national security concerns in the context of ongoing efforts to renegotiate NAFTA, but those talks have taken longer than expected and there is now no precise end date in sight, Ross said. Canada also offered aid immediately after the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

Tariffs on steel imports to the US can help local producers of the metal by making foreign products more expensive.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto spoke by phone following the US announcement.

Mexico said it would tax a number of US imports, including pork bellies, apples, grapes, cheeses and flat steel.

U.S. Commerce Department data show Canada is the top source of U.S. imports of steel and aluminum, while Mexico is the U.S.'s fourth-largest provider of steel and 10th-largest of aluminum.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the tariffs "totally unacceptable" and an affront to an ally that has fought alongside American forces for decades.

President Donald Trump's administration has threatened to impose tariffs on auto imports, is engaged in negotiations with China to reduce America's yawning trade deficit and has said it will punish Beijing for stealing its technology by imposing tariffs on $50 billion of imports from China.

Trudeau is hosting this year's G-7 summit in early June and President Trump is expected to attend.

This comes after USA and EU trade officials spent two months trying to reach an agreement to create a tariff exemption for European countries.

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"The EU believes these unilateral USA tariffs are unjustified and at odds with World Trade Organisation rules", Jean-Claude Juncker, President, European Commission, said on Thursday.

"We take the view that without a strong economy, you can not have strong national security", Ross told reporters.

In terms of the NAFTA talks, the tariffs could hinder the negotiations among the North American neighbours.

"We believe that this combined package achieves the original objectives we set out, which was to constrict imports to a level to allow those industries that operate domestically to do so on a self-sustaining basis going forward".

"Theresa May and her Government have approached the ongoing crisis with utter complacency and have proved too feeble to stand up to Trump when it was most needed", said the Sheffield Brightside MP.

Institute CEO Jim McGreevy called the tariffs a new tax on the US beer industry.

"When it comes to unfairly traded steel and aluminum, Mexico, Canada, and Europe are not the problem - China is", said Kevin Brady, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Ross is scheduled to go to China this weekend for a third round of negotiations. Talks with the European Union made some progress, but not enough to warrant a permanent exemption or another temporary exemption, he said.

"Trade wars don't have any winners", said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

Tata Steel, which employs 8,500 people across the United Kingdom, has called for "swift and robust action" in response to the steel tariffs.

"World trade is not a gunfight at the O.K. Corral", French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire warned, referring to a 1957 western movie.

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