As President Donald Trump places tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, he barges headlong into a trade war with the US’ allies. The EU, Canada and Mexico have all vowed to retaliate.
Trump announced the 25% tariff on steel and 10% tariff on aluminium on March, ostensibly as a way of reducing competition from China, who he claimed avoid tariffs by “transhipping” products through other countries. Some of the US’ allies were initially exempted, but on Thursday the Trump administration dismissed ongoing talks.
While intended by Trump as a protectionist policy to boost domestic manufacturing in the US, the Aluminum Association, representing the majority of the country’s producers of the metal, said that the decision to impose the tariffs “does little to address the China challenge while potentially alienating allies and disrupting supply chains that more than 97 percent of U.S. aluminum industry jobs rely upon.”
The EU issued a 10-page list of tariffs on US goods—including clothes, alcohol, agricultural products, cosmetics, consumer goods and motorcycles, as well as steel—and plans to challenge Trump’s decision at the World Trade Organization.
Canada—whose Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described Trump’s action as “totally unacceptable” and “an affront to the longstanding security partnership between Canada and the United States”— announced that it will impose “trade-restrictive countermeasures” including a 25% tariff on US steel products and a 10% tariff on items including perishable goods and cosmetic products.
Mexico’s list of tariffs, which it will apply “up to an amount comparable to the level of damage” of US tariffs, according to economy minister Ildefonso Guajardo, includes steel, meat and dairy products, fruit, and lamps.
Guajardo pointed out that Mexico is the top buyer of US aluminium and its second biggest buyer of steel.