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

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U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said during a call with reporters on Thursday that slow progress on the NAFTA renegotiation is another reason why Canada and Mexico will now be subject to the import tariffs.

Fears of a global trade war are mounting as the Trump administration also considers tariffs on US auto imports and duties on $50 billion in Chinese goods.

But he granted an exemption to the European Union and other US allies and that reprieve expires on Friday. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite lost 0.2%.

"My position remains unchanged: Tariffs on steel and aluminum imports are a tax hike on Americans and will have damaging consequences for consumers, manufacturers and workers", Hatch said in a statement.

More than 60 percent of United States auto imports - an industry that closely binds U.S. and Canadian manufacturing - come from G7 countries, as well as more than 50 percent of aluminium imports and almost 36 percent of steel.

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The countermeasures will hit USA hot and cold rolled steel, plated steel and tubes, the ministry said.

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 S&P 500 was down 0.30 per cent in early trade and the Dow was down 0.69 per cent.

Ross offered little detail about what the EU, Canada and Mexico could do to have the tariffs lifted. South Korea has not negotiated an exemption for its aluminum exports. "The government is absolutely prepared to and will defend Canadian industries and Canadian jobs".

The harsh duties imposed in March to combat global overcapacity of the metals and boost domestic production, were only among a flurry of different developments, coinciding with a political crisis in Italy, which this week has roiled markets.

'Tariffs on steel and aluminum imports to the US can help local producers of the metals by making foreign products more expensive.

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

The move, which President Trump has threatened for months, is likely to provoke retaliation from the European Union, which has pledged to counter with tariffs on American staples including Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Levi's jeans and bourbon whiskey. "It's not that we can't talk just because there's tariffs". That came as a surprise after China-U.S. trade talks appeared close to a deal for China to significantly increase purchases of U.S. energy and agricultural goods.

Fears of a global trade war are already weighing on investor confidence and could hinder the global economic upturn.

European officials had assumed that Trump would follow through with duties on their exports (negotiations over the Iran deal having already convinced them that trying to dissuade the USA president from scoring diplomatic own-goals was a futile enterprise).

Last week, Trump ordered the Commerce Department to conduct a national security investigation into foreign auto imports.

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