World leaders including US allies retaliate to Trump's trade war

World leaders including US allies retaliate to Trump's trade war

WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to levy tariffs on steel and aluminum imports has received worldwide criticism and retaliatory intentions from some of its closest allies.

On Thursday, Trump announced his plan to impose penalties of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on imported aluminum, which will come into effect next week, Xinhua has reported.

Trump's planned tariffs have sparked anger from Canada and the European Union (EU).

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Trump's plan will have "significant and serious" economic ramifications on the two nations.

"The United States has a two-billion Canadian dollar surplus on steel with us, so we regard the imposition of any new tariffs or any tariffs on steel or aluminum between our two countries as absolutely unacceptable," Trudeau told a news conference on Friday.

"Should restrictions be imposed on Canadian steel and aluminum products, Canada will take responsive measures to defend its trade interests and workers," Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement Thursday.

Canada is the largest steel exporter to the U.S. market, with steel imports from Canada accounting for 16.1 percent of the U.S. total steel imports in 2017, according to U.S. Commerce Department data.

Meanwhile, the EU has vowed to take retaliatory measures.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Trump's decision was "regrettable," while adding that the European Union would not stand idly by.

"We will now impose duties on motorbikes, Harley Davidsons, on jeans, Levi's, on bourbon," Juncker said during a speech late Friday in the northern German city of Hamburg, adding that it was "stupid" but necessary behavior.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel added her voice to a chorus of political and industry leaders slamming the proposed import duties.

"The federal government rejects such tariffs," Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said, "These tariffs would hit the international trade streams of our steel and aluminum industry severely."

"Someone who talks so much about fair trade like President Trump should not resort to such unfair methods," German Economics Minister Brigitte Zypries said, warning that the tariffs could set off "tectonic shifts in world trade."

French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said the outlook for the steel and aluminum sectors was already "fragile."

"All the options are on the table" if the new tariffs went into effect, he said, adding that "a trade war between Europe and the United States will have only losers."

Overall, the 28 EU nations make up nearly 21 percent of the steel imports of the United States, the world's largest steel importer, according to the German Steel Federation.

World Trade Organization (WTO) Director General Roberto Azevedo has expressed too the organization's concern over U.S. tariff plans in a brief statement.

"The WTO is clearly concerned at the announcement of U.S. plans for tariffs on steel and aluminum," Azevedo said on Friday, warning that "the potential for escalation is real, as we have seen from the initial responses of others."

"A trade war is in no-one's interests. The WTO will be watching the situation very closely," he added.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has also said that the import restrictions would not only hurt the U.S., but also other economies.

"The import restrictions announced by the U.S. president are likely to cause damage not only outside the U.S., but also to the U.S. economy itself, including to its manufacturing and construction sectors, which are major users of aluminum and steel," said IMF spokesperson Gerry Rice in a statement on Friday.

Ed Hirs, who teaches energy economics at the University of Houston, told local media that Houston's oil and gas sector and the Gulf Coast region might be impacted the most by the tariffs, as the area consumes thousands of tons of steel in drilling, pipeline and refining operations.

Houston is known as the oil and gas capital of the world as well as home to one of the largest petrochemical manufacturing centers in the world. The Gulf Coast is an area in the southern United States along the northern portion of the Gulf of Mexico.