Canada, European Union pledge countermeasures against US steel, aluminum tariffs

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would soon impose new tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum.
  • These tariffs would hit Canada particularly hard as it is the largest source of imports for both metals.
  • Both the European Commission and Canadian officials pledge to draft retaliatory measures in the near future.
Trump's tariffs could lead to unintended consequences
Trump's tariffs could lead to unintended consequences

President Donald Trump's announcement of new tariffs was met with swift criticism overseas and promises of countermeasures.

On Thursday, the president said the U.S. will set tariffs of 25 percent for steel and 10 percent for aluminum. These new tariffs could come as early as next week and would not target specific countries or impose quotas.

Canadian officials pledged to respond to U.S. tariffs with their own measures. Canadian Trade Minister Francois-Phillippe Champagne said these tariffs would be "unacceptable." He pledged to defend Canadian workers in the steel and aluminum industry.

Chrystia Freeland, Canada's minister of foreign affairs, said these trade restrictions would hurt workers and manufacturers on both sides of the border. She said it is inappropriate for the U.S. to view any trade with Canada as a national security threat.

Canada would be hit particularly hard by the tariffs Trump announced.

From 2013 to 2016, Canada was the largest source of of aluminum imports to the U.S., according to a U.S. Geological Survey report. Canada also accounts for the largest share of U.S. steel imports, according to the International Trade Administration.

Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, said the European Union will "react firmly and commensurately" to defend its interests. He asserted that this move aggravates problems in the steel industry and isn't justified by national security interests.

"We will not sit idly while our industry is hit with unfair measures that put thousands of European jobs at risk," Juncker said in a statement.

He also said that in the coming days the European Commission will propose "countermeasures against the U.S. to rebalance the situation."

Tariffs on the metals mark another step in the ongoing push for protectionist policies that helped Trump win the White House. The president has repeatedly thrashed free-trade deals struck by his predecessors, arguing they hurt American workers, and has pledged to make trade more fair to the United States.

But as reports surfaced that the president was moving forward with tariffs, European and Chinese officials considered retaliating by targeting American products with political significance.

— CNBC's Jacob Pramuk, Eamon Javers, John Schoen, Patti Domm and Reuters contributed to this report.

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