Trump tariffs on US allies draw retaliation threats


Associated Press

WASHINGTON

The Trump administration delivered a gut punch to America’s closest allies Thursday, imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum from Europe, Mexico and Canada in a move that drew immediate vows of retaliation.

Stock prices slumped amid fears of a trade war, with the Dow Jones industrial average falling nearly 252 points, or 1 percent, to 24,415.84.

The import duties threaten to drive up prices for American consumers and companies and are likely to heighten uncertainty for businesses and investors around the globe.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the tariffs – 25 percent on imported steel, 10 percent on aluminum – would take effect today.

President Donald Trump had originally imposed the tariffs in March, saying a reliance on imported metals threatened national security. But he exempted Canada, Mexico and the European Union to buy time for negotiations – a reprieve that expired at midnight Thursday.

Other countries, including Japan, America’s closest ally in Asia, are already paying the tariffs.

The administration’s actions drew fire from Europe, Canada and Mexico and promises to quickly retaliate against U.S. exports.

“This is protectionism, pure and simple,” said Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission.

The EU earlier threatened to counterpunch by targeting U.S. products, including Kentucky bourbon, blue jeans and motorcycles. David O’Sullivan, the EU’s ambassador in Washington, said the retaliation will probably be announced in late June.

Mexico complained that the tariffs will “distort international trade” and said it will penalize U.S. imports including pork, apples, grapes, cheeses and flat steel.

In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: “These tariffs are totally unacceptable.” Canada announced plans to slap tariffs on $12.8 billion worth of U.S. products, ranging from steel to yogurt and toilet paper.

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