Sat, Jun 02, 2018 - Page 1 News List

US allies vow to fight tariffs plan, warn of trade war


G7 delegates pose for a family photograph near people fly fishing during the G7 finance ministers’ summit on Thursday in Whistler, Canada.

Photo: Reuters

Nations around the world yesterday fought back against US President Donald Trump’s decision to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, announcing retaliatory countermeasures and saying that the plan would hurt US consumers.

French President Emmanuel Macron said in a statement that he told Trump in a telephone call that the tariffs on European, Mexican and Canadian goods are illegal and a “mistake.”

The riposte would be “firm” and “proportionate,” and in line with WTO rules, Macron said.

The EU and China said they would deepen ties on trade and investment as a result.

“This is stupid. It’s counterproductive,” former British minister of state for trade Francis Maude told the BBC.

“Economic nationalism leads to war. This is exactly what happened in the 1930s,” Macron said.

Stock prices slumped amid fears of a trade war, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling nearly 252 points, or 1 percent, to 24,415.84.

Mexico said that the tariffs would “distort international trade” and vowed to penalize US imports, including pork, apples, grapes, cheeses and flat steel.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday said that the tariffs were “totally unacceptable” as Canada announced plans to slap tariffs on US$12.8 billion worth of US products, ranging from steel to yogurt and toilet paper.

“Canada is a secure supplier of aluminum and steel to the US defense industry, putting aluminum in American planes and steel in American tanks,” Trudeau said. “That Canada could be considered a national security threat to the United States is inconceivable.”

The EU’s retaliation would probably be announced late this month, EU Ambassador to the US David O’Sullivan said.

Meanwhile, the White House on Thursday night released a statement from Trump saying of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA): “Earlier today, this message was conveyed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada: ‘The United States ... will agree to a fair deal, or there will be no deal at all.’”

Trump had offered the two US neighbors a permanent exemption from the tariffs if they agreed to US demands on NAFTA, but the talks have stalled.

US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said there was “no longer a very precise date when they may be concluded,” and that as a result, Canada and Mexico were hit with tariffs.

US House Speaker Paul Ryan and several leading Republicans in Congress were critical of the administration’s tariff action.

Ryan said there are better ways to help US workers and consumers, and that he plans to work with Trump on “those better options.”

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