Chorus of condemnation intensifies in US over trade tariff

WASHINGTON: Massive US tariffs have come into force as condemnation of the Trump administration’s move intensifies.
Criticism of the import tax on steel and aluminium from the EU, Canada and Mexico was joined by top congressional Republicans.
Leaders from affected nations reacted furiously, setting out tit-for-tat tariffs on the US, ranging from steel to sleeping bags and ballpoint pens. France’s president told Mr Trump by phone that the US move was “illegal”.
Emmanuel Macron told him the EU would respond in a “firm and proportionate manner”, the Elysee Palace says.
The French president normally enjoys a good relationship with his US counterpart. Mr Trump has justified the tariffs, which came into force at midnight Washington DC time (04:00 GMT Friday), by arguing that US steel and aluminium producers are vital to national security and threatened by a global supply glut.
That rationale was rejected by allies. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described that claim as an affront. “That Canada could be considered a national security threat to the United States is inconceivable,” he said.
UK International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said the 25% levy on steel was “patently absurd”. “It would be a great pity if we ended up in a tit-for-tat trade dispute with our closest allies,” he said.
Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said his country would also impose duties: “We will continue to defend the interests of Mexico, just as we have done until now.”
Opposition to the tariffs was joined by congressional Republicans. “I disagree with this decision,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, the most influential Republican in Congress, said in a statement.
“Today’s action targets America’s allies when we should be working with them to address the unfair trading practices of countries like China,” he said. Trump first announced plans for the tariffs in March, but granted some exemptions while countries negotiated.
US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Thursday said talks with the EU, Canada and Mexico had not made enough progress to warrant a further reprieve. Tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium go into effect today.

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