U.S. hits EU, Canada and Mexico with steel, aluminum tariffs

Rufus Yerxa, president of the National Foreign Trade Council in Washington, said the steel and aluminum decision would have much broader implications for the global trading system.

Mr Stace said USA tariffs would be "purely protectionist".

During a discussion panel at an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris on Wednesday, Mr Ross said negotiations could continue, even with tariffs in place. The stock was down by 0.4 per cent at $48.34 United States amid reports the company could be impacted by the tariff. "This is protectionism, pure and simple", Juncker said.

White House spokesman Raj Shah told Fox News: "The president's actions are about protecting American steel, American aluminum".

The Mexican government said that the USA action was not justified, and that it would retaliate with its own comparable penalties on U.S. lamps, pork, fruit, cheese and flat steel.

Exports: About half of Canada's production is exported, mostly to the U.S.

Meanwhile, negotiations with Canada and Mexico to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement were "taking longer than we had hoped" and there was no "precise date" for concluding them, so their exemption also would be removed, Ross told reporters.

South Korea also received a permanent exemption from steel tariffs, having negotiated instead an absolute quota equivalent to 70 percent of 2015-2017 imports.

The three allies were previously given temporary exemptions from the duties - 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum.

The EU has already said it will respond by imposing tariffs on USA products such as motorcycles and jeans.

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European officials had braced for the tariffs and the EU has threatened to retaliate against US orange juice, peanut butter and other goods in return.

Secretary Ross made it clear thta restructuring tariffs on USA goods is a high priority for the Trump administration.

"The EU, Canada, and Mexico make up about half of United States steel imports, so the economic effect of these tariffs would be far more than anything we've seen to date", he said.

"As to Canada, Mexico, you will recall that the reason for the deferral had been pending the outcome of the NAFTA talks", he said.

Ross said retaliatory measures by Canada and Mexico won't affect the NAFTA talks.

Trump had been widely expected to impose tariffs on European steel and aluminum imports after failing to win concessions from the European Union.

Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron made their cases separately Wednesday to dissuade Trump, who is using a national-security clause in US trade law to justify the move.

"There are still a lot of debates going on in Europe", said Guntram Wolff, director of the Bruegel Institute, a Brussels-based think tank.

Trump invoked a 1962 trade law to erect protections for U.S. steel and aluminium producers on national security grounds, amid a worldwide glut of both metals that is largely blamed on excess production in China.