US tariffs: Steel and aluminium levies slapped on key allies

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has warned Europe its new privacy laws could hurt the continent with less communication coming from America including vital alerts about possible disease outbreaks

The 25% tariffs on steel and 10% on aluminium will begin at midnight.

The countries had a June 1 deadline to reach a satisfactory outcome.

Last week, the USA administration launched a national security-based investigation that could result in stinging tariffs on the autos the United States imports annually, just as it has for the smaller aluminium and steel industries.

The EU has vowed to hit back at the USA with tariffs on American goods, including iconic items such as Harley-Davidson motorbikes, blue jeans and bourbon whiskey.

Ross offered little detail about what the EU, Canada and Mexico could do to have the tariffs lifted.

If Canada and Mexico choose to take retaliatory measures, it would not affect the ability to keep renegotiating NAFTA as a separate track, he added. Check back for updates.

Following the unsuccessful meeting, Mr Le Maire said: "It's entirely up to USA authorities whether they want to enter into a trade conflict with their biggest partner, Europe".

While not confirming directly that the United States would decide to impose tariffs, he said: "It's up to the European Union to decide if it wants to take retaliatory measures".

Ross repeated remarks he made on Wednesday in Paris during an OECD meeting that just because the United States have levied the tariffs doesn't mean that negotiations with the countries are halted even if they retaliate. "The talks are taking longer than we had hoped".

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Earlier this month, European Union leaders said they were open to discussions on restructuring current tariffs on USA goods, but only if they were granted a permanent exemption from steel and aluminum tariffs.

While Donald Trump's trade war with China simmers, he's about to turn up the heat in Europe.

Ross said the White House would need to see the reactions of Canada, Mexico and the 28-nation European bloc before determining what to do next.

European officials had braced for the tariffs and the EU has threatened to retaliate against USA orange juice, peanut butter and other goods in return.

"The responsibility falls exclusively on to USA authorities", Le Maire said.

On Tuesday, Ms. Freeland met with Mr. Trump's trade chief, Robert Lighthizer, in Washington for two hours in an effort to get a permanent exemption on tariffs.

He also expected NAFTA negotiations to continue despite the new barriers slapped on the U.S.'s neighbors to the north and south, and pointed to the fact that negotiations continue with China despite the barriers slapped on them previously by the united states.

'If there is an escalation it will be because the European Union would have chose to retaliate'.

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