USA to impose tariffs on European Union steel, aluminium

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has warned Europe its new privacy laws could hurt the continent with less communication coming from America including vital alerts about possible disease outbreaks

"World trade is not a gunfight at the O.K. Corral", French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire quipped Thursday, in reference to a 1957 western movie.

When China targeted key US imports in retaliation against USA tariffs on $50 billion (37.5 billion pounds) of Chinese goods in April, Trump ordered USA officials to identify a further $100 billion of Chinese products the United States could hit.

For instance, the Beer Institute - an industry group that represents U.S. brewers - warned that aluminum tariffs would drive up prices of beer cans.

The European Commission, which coordinates trade policy for the 28 EU members, has said the bloc should be permanently exempted from the tariffs since it is an ally and not the cause of steel and aluminium overcapacity.

The tariffs, which have increased friction with United States trading partners worldwide and prompted several challenges before the World Trade Organization, are aimed at allowing the United States steel and aluminium industries to increase their capacity utilization rates above 80% for the first time in years.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas meanwhile warned against the threat of protectionism, telling reporters Thursday that worldwide partners could have "no interest in the clock being turned back" on trade policy.

The decision will inflame relations with the EU, Canada and Mexico.

Ross spoke with top European Union officials in Paris Wednesday as part of a two-day meeting.

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On Tuesday, Ms. Freeland met with Mr. Trump's trade chief, Robert Lighthizer, in Washington for two hours in an effort to get a permanent exemption on tariffs.

Europe has been bracing for the U.S.to place the restrictions even as top European officials have held last-ditch talks in Paris with American trade officials to try to avert the tariffs.

But Jacob Kirkegaard, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, told AFP that the agenda Canada, the current G7 chair, set for the meeting - which included uncontroversial themes such as inclusive development and innovation in finance - would be swept aside amid raw relations between America and its traditional allies.

"I don't think it helps the NAFTA negotiations", Lester said.

President Donald Trump's administration is planning to impose tariffs on European steel and aluminum imports after failing to win concessions from the European Union, a move that could provoke retaliatory tariffs and inflame trans-Atlantic trade tensions. The people familiar with the talks said Trump could make an announcement as early as Thursday.

The WTO meanwhile acknowledged that it needed to become "more effective" to retain its central role for global trade.

Tariffs on steel imports to the US can help local producers of the metal by making foreign products more expensive.

"So, the fact that we took the tariff action doesn't mean that there can not be negotiation", he said.

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