President Donald Trump has decided to follow through on his threat to impose tariffs on America's allies – raising concerns over retaliation against American companies.
Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced Thursday that duties of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum will take effect at midnight, according to The New York Times, impacting shipments from the European Union, Canada and Mexico.
Those countries had secured temporary exemptions to the initial metal tariffs, which were announced in late March, while the Trump administration continued to push them for concessions on other fronts, like voluntarily limiting their metal shipments to the United States and cutting tariffs on other products. But Mr. Ross said that, while discussions with the Europeans had been ongoing, the progress had not warranted either another temporary exemption or a permanent exemption.
The Trump administration has couched its call for tariffs as a measure to protect the country's national security, with Ross reiterating the view again Thursday that “without a strong economy, you can’t have strong national security.”
But American allies fail to appreciate such a view:
The European Union and Canada have objected strongly to the use of the national security argument, citing their close alliance and defense agreements with the United States. On Wednesday, Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign minister called the idea that metal imports from her country would threaten American national security “frankly absurd.”