Major U.S. trading partners, including Canada, Mexico, and the EU fired back on Thursday at the Trump administration’s steel and aluminum tariffs, saying they will fight back against them.
“This is protectionism, pure and simple,” said the European Commission’s president, Jean-Claude Juncker, as European trade officials issued a list of hundreds of U.S. products worth about $7.5 billion which would now be subject to tariffs for European consumers.
Juncker added in a statement that the bloc will also lodge a case with the World Trade Organization (WTO), as the United States has left it “with no choice but to proceed with a WTO dispute settlement case.”
The U.S.’s third-largest trade partner, Mexico, will impose duties on pork, apples, grapes, flat steel and other products, while Canada, the second-largest U.S. trade partner, responded with “dollar-for-dollar” tariffs against U.S. steel and aluminum exports of up to $12.8 billion.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a Thursday press conference that the tariffs were “totally unacceptable” and called “absurd” the White House argument that Canadian steel and aluminum imports represent a national security risk. He further deemed the tariffs “an affront to the longstanding security partnership between Canada and the United States.”
As for U.S. exports penalized by the European Union, jewelry, Bourbon whiskey, telecom equipment, cigarettes and U.S.-made denim are on the list, all worth millions of dollars.
The Mexican government pointed out that its countermeasures will stay in place until U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum are dropped.
“Mexico reiterates its openness to constructive dialog with the United States, its support for the international commerce system and its rejection of unilateral protectionist measures,” the Mexican economy ministry said.
The U.S. tariffs on aluminum and steel will go into effect on Friday, threatening to complicate ongoing negotiations between the US, Canada, and Mexico on modifications to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Steel industry groups in the EU have urged politicians to protect their companies and the steel market in general from the risks of falling prices due to excess steel not sold to the U.S.