Published: Thu, May 31, 2018
Finance | By Kristine Clayton

U.S. trade tensions at fever pitch as steel deadline looms

U.S. trade tensions at fever pitch as steel deadline looms

The Trump administration made good on threats to impose tariffs on some of the nation's closest allies Thursday, announcing it will no longer exempt Canada, Mexico and the European Union from previously announced levies on steel and aluminum.

President Trump had announced the tariffs in March, but gave several US allies temporary exemptions while they negotiated potential limits on shipments to the United States.

"We look forward to continued negotiations, both with Canada and Mexico on the one hand, and with the European Commission on the other hand, because there are other issues that we also need to get resolved", the USA commerce chief told reporters.

Meanwhile, the commerce secretary said he plans to go to China for trade talks on Friday, another country with which the USA has developed an extremely tense relationship over trade differences under the Trump administration.

He added: "We look forward to continued negotiations, both with Canada and Mexico on the one hand, and with the European Commission on the other hand, because there are other issues that we also need to get resolved".

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is due to hold meetings with his European counterparts to discuss President Donald Trump's confrontational trade agenda, officials said. But they can also increase costs more broadly for US manufacturers who cannot source all their needs locally and have to import the materials. "Nothing", French President Emmanuel Macron said in an impassioned speech Wednesday. "The president is a great supporter of the farming community and as you may be aware, earlier directed sec Perdue to take whatever methods he could to offset" retaliation.

The UK government's spokesperson stated that Britain and other European Union countries are close allies of the United States and thus should be "permanently and fully exempted" from the USA metal tariffs. That hurts the companies and can lead to more expensive consumer prices, economists say.

"It's only the European Union insisting we can't negotiate if there are tariffs".

Referring to the on again off again trade talks between Washington and Beijing, Mr Ross said: "China is an interesting case in point". Discussions could then be expanded to include other countries to agree on changes by the end of the year.

The tariffs, which have prompted several challenges at the World Trade Organization, are aimed at allowing the US steel and aluminium industries to increase their capacity utilization rates above 80 percent for the first time in years. We are ready to rebuild this multilateralism with our American friends'.

Ross and Lighthizer seemed like the odd men out at this week's gathering at the OECD, an global economic agency that includes the U.S.as a prominent member.

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