World on brink of trade war as U.S. slaps tariffs on allies

President Donald Trump announced in March that the United States would slap a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum citing national security

President Donald Trump announced in March that the United States would slap a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum citing national security

Brussels will also now trigger a dispute settlement case at the World Trade Organisation, saying the United States is acting against agreed global rules.

Trudeau said he was prepared to travel to Washington this week to try and finalize a rework of the North American Free Trade Agreement, but Pence - in the phone call - said a meeting would only occur if the "sunset" provision was agreed to in advance.

United States tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminium from the affected countries came into effect at midnight in Washington - 06.00 Central European Time (CET).

In retaliation to the United States' tariff announcement, Canada has threatened to impose tariffs of up to $16.6 billion on some steel and aluminum products and other goods from the USA - including gherkins and condiments - beginning July 1.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, "These tariffs are totally unacceptable", and that Canada would pursue retaliatory penalties.

"We can consider sourcing aluminium from the USA, rather than in the EU", Mr Brocklesby said.

The government of Theresa May had pinned post-Brexit hopes on securing a trade deal with the USA, and the imposition of tariffs on steel is adding to fears that negotiating a quick trade liberalization agreement with Trump looks increasingly unlikely.

The European Union, Mexico and Canada are all promising tit-for-tat tariffs on American made goods.

Trump's remarks follow a refusal by Trudeau to accept terms laid out by the US administration.

"There was the broad lines of a decent win-win-win deal on the table", Trudeau said.

He added that Europe will respond with "counterbalancing measures" soon.

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Speaking to reporters in Brussels with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Mogherini said the two "confirmed our joint support for the WTO as the center of the rules-based, multilateral trading system".

In the short term, analysts expected that the trade battle now underway would quickly result in price increases on certain products on supermarket shelves in Mexico as the retaliatory tariffs take effect.

"We follow this with a lot of anxiety", Malmström said of the investigation.

The EU list covers agricultural products including corn, rice, peanut butter and orange juice.

The tariffs are aimed at allowing the U.S. steel and aluminium industries to increase their capacity utilization rates above 80% for the first time in years.

French President Emmanuel Macron during a speech said on Wednesday, "Unilateral responses and threats over trade war will solve nothing of the serious imbalances in world trade".

South Korea, Argentina, Australia, and Brazil have all signed separate trade deals with the United States, and will be exempt from all or part of the tariffs.

Marcon also said in a Friday statement that "economic nationalism leads to war".

"The steel that doesn't go to the USA has to go somewhere, and it won't just happen equally around the world", Gareth Stace, director of UK Steel, said.

A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned of "the danger of spirals of escalations" that could hurt everyone.

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