Trump imposes steel, aluminum tariffs on EU, Canada, Mexico

The Trump administration levied hefty steel and aluminum tariffs on the European Union, Canada and Mexico starting June 1, a move likely to lead to retaliation and risk the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said President Trump decided to end the temporary exemptions for the three key trading allies, despite their two months of lobbying to avoid the tariffs.

“We look forward to continued negotiations with Canada and Mexico on one hand, and with the European Commission on the other hand, as there are other issues we need to get resolved,” Ross told reporters on a conference call.

Ross said the White House would need to see the reactions of Canada, Mexico and the 28-nation European bloc before determining what to do next.

But he said that U.S. officials are “quite willing and eager” to have further discussions with all of the parties.

The trading partners all warned the U.S. they would impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports if the U.S. went through with the steel and aluminum tariffs.

The EU is expected to quickly retaliate with promised tariffs of about $3.3 billion on iconic American products such as bourbon, jeans and motorcycles.

Last year, nearly 50 percent of U.S. steel and aluminum imports in 2017 came from the EU, Canada and Mexico.

Maritime Editorial