Trump hits Canadian steel, aluminum with tariffs

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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.

"Global trade is not a gunfight at the OK Corral", France's finance minister quipped after meeting U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

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 Commission has said the European Union will set duties on 2.8 billion euros (US$3.4 billion) of U.S. exports, including peanut butter and denim jeans, if its metals exports to the United States worth 6.4 billion euros (US$7.5 billion) are subject to tariffs.

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

The Prime Minister's Office said they "all agreed to continue to defend the Canadian steel and aluminum industry from unwarranted tariffs and to stand up for the best interests of all Canadian workers and businesses".

Malmstrom is meeting U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in Paris on Thursday among other global trade chiefs.

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"We look forward to continued negotiations with Canada and Mexico on one hand and with the European Commission on the other hand as there are other issues we need to get resolved", Ross told reporters on a conference call.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who pushed the steel and NAFTA issues during her meeting on Tuesday in Washington with US trade czar Robert Lighthizer, has also made it clear that Canada would retaliate if the duties are imposed.

The tariffs - 25 percent on imports of steel and 10 percent on aluminum - take effect at midnight Friday. European officials argue that tit-for-tat tariffs will hurt growth on both sides of the Atlantic.

On any potential Canadian response, Mr. Ross said: "We shall have to see what's their reaction". We are ready to rebuild this multilateralism with our American friends'. But they can also increase costs more broadly for USA manufacturers who cannot source all their needs locally and have to import the materials.

But Macron said those "who waged bilateral trade wars. saw an increase in prices and an increase in unemployment".

Canada and Mexico have proposed NAFTA deals over the past month, said sources with knowledge of the closed-door talks - offering to agree to US demands on content rules in the auto sector if the Trump administration drops its other proposals.