US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced has announced that the United States will implement on Friday a significant tariff on steel and aluminum imported from the European Union from today.
Mexico and Canada will also be targeted by the tariffs.
The United States has therefore decided not to extend the temporary exemption granted to the European Union until Thursday midnight and will implement taxes of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum.
The reprieve on these taxes is also lifted for Mexico and Canada, America’s two partners in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) whose renegotiation, started ten months ago, is struggling to succeed.
To justify his decision, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that the United States did not want to grant the twenty-eight « a permanent and unconditional exemption on tariffs.
« We had discussions with the European Commission and, although we made progress, they did not go to the point where it would have been justified either to extend the temporary exemption or to grant a permanent exemption, » Ross said.
The commerce secretary downplayed the risk of retaliation from these countries, adding that there was « potential for discussion » with the European Union. But, he warned, « as we do not know what their will be reaction to the idea of continuing discussions » despite the imposition of tariffs, « it is a bit premature to know the topics of these negotiations. »
The reaction of Brussels was not long in the wake of the US decision, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, said he would « announce the countermeasures in the coming hours. »
« The European Union can not stay without reacting … We are able to do exactly the same thing, » Juncker said.
Mexico, too, has decided to retaliate commercially. « Mexico will impose equivalent measures on various products, » including some steel, fruit and cheese, said the Ministry of Economy in a statement.