The Trump administration on Thursday imposed steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from three of America’s biggest trading partners — Canada, Mexico and the European Union, prompting outrage from America’s closest allies and sparking a trade war that could see U.S. consumers pay more for everything from canned soup to cars.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross confirmed to reporters on Thursday that the White House will add a 25 percent import tariff on steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum that will take effect at midnight.
“We take the view that without a strong economy, you cannot have strong national security,” Ross told reporters.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denounced the punitive tariffs as “totally unacceptable” and “an affront,” saying that the very idea “Canada could be considered a national security threat to the United States is inconceivable.”
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland announced $12.8 billion in retaliatory tariffs, which she called “the strongest trade action Canada has taken in the post-war era.”
Mexico quickly responded by imposing tariffs of its own.
Europe also said it would begin the process for enacting retaliatory tariffs.
“Today is a bad day for world trade,” EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström said in a statement. “We did everything to avoid this outcome.”
Trump’s decision could raise prices for Americans on a range of everyday products. It could also place the United States in a trade dispute on more than one front. The administration is separately moving ahead with tariffs on Chinese goods.
Trump imposed the steel and aluminum penalties under a 1962 law that gives the president broad power to increase or reduce tariffs on goods deemed critical to national security.