US to impose tariffs on European Union steel, aluminium

US to impose tariffs on European Union steel, aluminium

The Trump administration has given permanent metals tariff exemptions to several countries including Australia, Argentina and South Korea, but in each case set import quotas.

The countries had a June 1 deadline to reach a satisfactory outcome.

Wilbur Ross, Donald Trump's commerce secretary, said the 25% duty on steel and the 10% duty on aluminium would be imposed from midnight.

The U.S. had delayed imposing the tariffs on Canada and Mexico pending talks on NAFTA and related national security issues, Ross said.

Sources tell Reuters that the United States plans to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium from the European Union, with an announcement expected as early as Thursday.

"The EU, Canada, and Mexico make up about half of USA steel imports, so the economic effect of these tariffs would be far more than anything we've seen to date", he said. In the case of Canada and Mexico, the USA 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. Check back for updates.

EU Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said Thursday the European side is "ready to deal with any kind of scenario, and to defend the EU interests and global trade law".

"There can be negotiations with or without tariffs in place", Mr Ross said in Paris. "It's not that we can't talk just because there's tariffs", he said.

Discussions with the European Union made some progress didn't get to the point where it was warranted to give the bloc a continued temporary exemption or a permanent exemption, Ross said.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called the US tariffs "unjustified, unjustifiable and unsafe".

US and European officials held last-ditch talks in Paris to try to reach a deal, though hopes are low and fears of a trade war are mounting.

Macron also proposed to start negotiations between the US, the EU, China and Japan to reshape the World Trade Organization to better regulate trade.

Besides the US steel and aluminum tariffs, the Trump administration is also investigating possible limits on foreign cars in the name of national security.

Mr Trump imposed the tariffs in March to address global oversupply of the metals.

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

"It makes it really hard to believe that deliberations are in good faith if you're taking capricious actions like this that really hurt the other parties", he said.

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