Tariffs: How Europe is punishing the US

European steelmakers may have to impose quotas to appease President Trump

The Australian Stock Exchange is bracing for a soft start to June as the global economy grapples with a new trade war after the USA announced it will go through with tariffs on aluminium and steel imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union. It represents an apparent breakdown in Trudeau's efforts to find common ground with the tough-talking president.

In Halifax to speak to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Trudeau pledged Friday to work with Canadian companies hit the tariffs to protect jobs and workers, but offered no details about what that might mean.

The CBI warned the move would "damage prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic". Trudeau responded that there was no way any Canadian prime minister would sign a NAFTA deal that included a five-year sunset clause, and the visit was scrapped.

But the tariffs stung particularly in Canada, where Trudeau evoked the history of the two countries fighting together, from the beaches of Normandy to the mountains of Afghanistan.

During a conference call early Thursday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross played down the divisions.

The EU fired its first riposte against Washington's punishing steel and aluminium tariffs on Friday, joining Canada and Mexico in a brewing global trade war against U.S. protectionism.

In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who discussed the issue today with President Enrique Peña Nieto, announced tariffs of up to 25% on USA imports worth up to United States $12.8 billion, the value of Canadian steel exports to the USA a year ago.

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Washington's move also left European leaders fuming.

Canada announced a range of tariffs on US exports, after the Trump administration's imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from its northern neighbor on May 31, 2018.

Mexico and Canada renewed their commitment to the bare-knuckled NAFTA renegotiation after absorbing the blow of the Trump administration's decision to impose potentially debilitating new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

Talks with Europe had "made some progress", but not enough for additional exemptions, he said, adding: "We continue to be quite willing and indeed eager to have further discussions".

"What we have is about 15 counties in the aluminum space and about 20 in the steel space who basically are sending a flood of imports into this country", he said.

"They open the door for a broadening of tariffs to include more goods, something that can not be entirely ruled out as US politicians seek to boost their approval ratings in rust belt states ahead of mid-term elections", he said.

Ross shrugged off questions about the US facing possible retaliation, or whether the move would negatively affect the G7 meeting. "Allies they [will] stay", she pointed out.

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EU members have so far given broad support to a European Commission plan to set duties on 2.8 billion euros (£2.4 billion) of USA exports. "Mexico has stated repeatedly that this type of measure, based on national security, is neither appropriate nor justified".

"What they can do, we're able to do exactly the same", he said yesterday after learning of President Trump's decision when he was passed a note halfway through a speech.

It is not clear what the British response would be, although International Trade Secretary Liam Fox signaled that the United Kingdom was ready for "tit-for-tat" action, telling Sky News that British steel "is vital for their businesses and their defense industry", adding "it is patently absurd". Well, it's not, and one of biggest reasons why is Trump's trade policy, which became more alarming this week.

Congressional Republicans have already started raising the specter of job losses in their states.

"The key takeaway is Donald Trump does not view the Canada-U.S. relationship as special", Eric Miller of the Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, said in an interview.

'And I believe in the word reciprocal.

He signed-off the new tariffs surrounded by USA steel workers who are supportive of his decision. The decision was said to take effect from midnight on Thursday.

United States imposes steel, aluminum tariffs on EU, Canada, Mexico
Tariffs on steel and aluminum imports to the USA can help local producers of the metals by making foreign products more expensive. But the broader market sank because of trade war fears.

"This is Trump versus the world, rather than Trump versus Canada".

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