G7 finance ministers warn USA against trade war over metal tariffs

Trump's tweet came a day after he ignited global condemnation by imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and two other key United States allies - the European Union and Mexico.

Economists say the standoff with the European Union could tip towards a trade war, particularly after Trump last week launched another national security investigation into vehicle and truck imports that could lead to new US tariffs.

The EU threatened to make good on a threat it issued in March to impose tariffs on imports from the US that is 10 pages long, including everything from corn and tobacco, to T-shirts, Levi's jeans, bourbon, motor boats and various forms of steel.

Trump criticized Canada's softwood lumber and agriculture policies, using them as examples of how America is being treated poorly by Canada.

"The EU believes these unilateral USA tariffs are unjustified and at odds with World Trade Organization rules".

Mnuchin rejected comments from some G7 officials that the United States was circumventing worldwide trade rules with the tariffs or ceding global economic leadership.

Canada has responded by imposing dollar-for-dollar tariff "countermeasures" on up to $16.6 billion worth of US imports.

"Will the rest of Europe turn their attention to Germany and say look, Trump has a problem with you and we are suffering the consequences".

The tariffs, which apply to a long list of USA products that includes everything from flat-rolled steel to playing cards and felt-tipped pens, will go into effect July 1, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told a news conference Thursday.

Likewise, the Trump trade team sought to use the tariff threat to pressure Europe into reducing barriers to US products.

The US decided the tariffs in March, but gave Canada and the European Union - the biggest sources of foreign aluminium and steel for the US - a grace period that ended on May 31.

Now, both of those men have left the White House, and Trump has gravitated instead toward seeking the counsel of trade hardliners like Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, senior adviser Peter Navarro, and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

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In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday that the tariffs were "totally unacceptable".

Washington had granted Canada and Mexico an exemption on the metals tariffs to give the parties time to successfully renegotiate the 1994 continental trade pact.

Industry experts have warned that EU retaliation could encourage the Trump administration to strike back with more trade barriers on items like European cars.

The U.S. tariffs coincide with - and could complicate - the Trump administration's separate fight over Beijing's strong-arm tactics to overtake U.S. technological supremacy.

Both sides also discussed global issues, including North Korea and Iran.

"The Administration will continue to monitor steel and aluminum imports and adjust the measures in effect as necessary to protect the national security of the United States".

We are not seeking to escalate the situation.

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

The response followed Washington's decision on Thursday to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports from the EU, Canada and Mexico.

Industry officials and defence experts have compared the level of integration between the Canadian and American defence industries to the auto sector.

On May 23rd, days before a scheduled meeting with the European Union and Japan on a joint trade strategy and in the middle of talks to revamp the North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA), it began an investigation into whether auto imports are a threat to America's national security.


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