31 May, 2018
Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, batted away European calls for a permanent exemption from duties of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminium.
The tariffs - 25 percent on imports of steel and 10 percent on aluminum - take effect at midnight Friday.
He cited a lack of progress in the renegotiations of the North American free-trade agreement as a reason for President Donald Trump eliminating an exemption Canada was given when worldwide tariffs were announced earlier this year.
Canada and Mexico have said tariffs are unacceptable, don't affect US national security and that their implementation could put the fate of NAFTA at stake.
Discussions with the European Union made some progress didn't get to the point where it was warranted to give the bloc a continued temporary exemption or a permanent exemption, Ross said.
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".
USA and European officials held last-ditch talks in Paris on Thursday to try to reach a deal, though hopes are low and fears of a trade war are mounting. But they can also increase costs more broadly for US manufacturers who cannot source all their needs locally and have to import the materials.
By increasing the cost of imported steel and aluminum, companies that rely on the metals will be forced to either accept the higher costs and lower profits or pass on the price increase to consumers. "You saw his reaction when China made a decision to retaliate".
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"We believe these tariffs aren't compatible with WTO rules", she said in Lisbon.
"Unilateral responses and threats over trade war will solve nothing of the serious imbalances in the world trade".
The EU is expected to respond with tariffs of their own on a little more than $3 billion worth of American goods including motorcycles, bourbon, and blue jeans.
Ross criticized the European Union for its tough negotiating position. He noted that "China has not used that as an excuse not to negotiate".
While Donald Trump's trade war with China simmers, he's about to turn up the heat in Europe. "It's not about who attacks whom, and then wait and see who is still standing at the end".
Ross expressed concern that the Geneva-based World Trade Organization and other organizations are too rigid and slow to adapt to changes in global business. "We are ready to rebuild this multilateralism with our American friends", he said.
Ross and Lighthizer seemed like the odd men out at this week's gathering at the OECD, an worldwide economic agency that includes the U.S.as a prominent member.