Trudeau declines to meet Trump after Pence sets precondition

Posted June 01, 2018

The Trump administration announced Thursday, May 31, 2018 that it will impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Europe, Mexico and Canada after failing to win concessions from the American allies.

The European Union will launch a case at the World Trade Organization against a USA move to put new import tariffs on EU steel and aluminum, Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said in a statement.

Canadian steel and aluminum producers are hoping for another exemption from U.S. President Donald Trump's tariffs as the strain of operating under the ongoing threat of levies takes a toll on the industry.

Starting Friday, he said, steel imports from those countries will be subject to a 25% tariff, and aluminum imports will be hit with a 10% tariff.

"We are on the losing side of nearly all trade deals".

Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, added that the United States tariffs are "protectionism, pure and simple".

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About half of Canada's steel and 80 per cent of aluminum is exported to the U.S. EU members have given broad support to a European Commission plan to set duties on 2.8 billion euros ($3.4 billion) of US exports if Washington ends tariff exemptions.

Ross said he's looking forward to "continued negotiations" with Canada, Mexico and European Union "because there are other issues" that need to be resolved.

In a sternly-worded statement, he added that the European Union would "not negotiate under threat".

"I got a call from Vice President Pence on Tuesday in which it was impressed upon me that there was precondition for us being able to get together - that Canada would accept a sunset clause for NAFTA", Trudeau said. "As we have said, we will always stand up for our workers, and today we're announcing retaliatory measures to this attack on our industry".

"Since President Trump stated his plans to impose blanket tariffs on steel imports nearly three months ago, the United Kingdom steel sector had hoped for the best, but still feared the worst".

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

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Trudeau invoked decades of battles fought alongside the US and defending North American airspace as proof that the USA tariffs based on a national security investigation are "unacceptable" and "punitive".

The EU said it would retaliate with tariffs on products like USA bourbon. The administration is separately moving ahead with tariffs on Chinese goods.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called the United States tariffs "unjustified, unjustifiable and dangerous".

White House spokesman Raj Shah told Fox News: "The president's actions are about protecting American steel, American aluminum". The EU also started the process of filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization.

"The government of Canada is confident that shared values, geography and common interests will ultimately overcome protectionism", Trudeau said.

US trading partners had demanded that the exemptions be extended or made permanent.

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Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, campaigning in advance of the June 7 provincial election, savaged the US president as she called the tariff measure short-sighted and urged Trudeau "to take the strongest retaliation possible to protect our workers" and industry.