The Trump administration announced Thursday it will no longer exempt Canada, Mexico and the European Union from previously announced tariffs on steel and aluminum. The announcement was made in Paris by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Associated Press reported. Tariffs will take effect starting Friday June 1st.
Canada and Mexico had been exempted from the tariffs first announced last March giving time for negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to take place, but Ross said those talks were taking longer than "we had hoped", thus the administration decided to lift such exemptions.
The Mexican government, as well as the rest of the countries affected by the measure, announced it will answer tariffs on steel and aluminum with duties of its own on a variety of products and commodities, including U.S. imports of pork bellies, apples, grapes, cheeses and flat steel among other things “up to an amount comparable to the level of the affectation.”
“Steel and aluminum are inputs that contribute to the competitiveness of several strategic and highly integrated sectors in North America, such as automotive, aerospace, electrical and electronic, among others. Mexico is the main buyer of aluminum and the second of steel in the United States,” the Secretary of Economy declared in a statement.
France says it’s working with Germany and European authorities for a “firm and united response” but no concrete countermeasures have been announced.
The U.S. has already reached agreements with South Korea, Australia, Brazil and Argentina, which are voluntarily limiting their metals exports.