May 31, 2018 9:44 am
Updated: May 31, 2018 8:27 pm

U.S. announces steel and aluminum tariffs, Canada hits back

WATCH: Wilbur Ross says countries 'will get over this in due course' over tariff concerns


The United States’ decision that Canada will no longer be exempt from its steel and aluminum tariffs is “totally unacceptable,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday.

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At a press conference in Ottawa, Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, outlined that Canada will impose a range of retaliatory tariffs that will remain in place as long as the U.S. upholds its decision.

READ MORE: From pork to jeans — countries threaten tariff retaliation for U.S. steel, aluminum duties

“Americans remain our partners, our allies and our friends,” Trudeau said. “This is not about the American people. We have to believe that at some point common sense will prevail, but we see no sign of that with this action today by the U.S. administration.”

LISTEN BELOW: Export Development Canada economist Peter Hall speaks with 630 CHED’s Ryan Jespersen

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Canada, Mexico and the European Union were exempted from import duties of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum when the tariffs were first imposed in March, but those exemptions were set to expire Friday.

WATCH: U.S. President Donald Trump to impose steel, aluminum tariffs

The tariffs will kick in at midnight, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross told reporters Thursday, adding there will be some flexibility and continued negotiations.

“We look forward to continued negotiations, both with Canada and Mexico on the one hand and with the European Commission on the other hand, because there are other issues that we also need to get resolved,” he said.

READ MORE: Canada retaliates against U.S. steel, aluminum tariffs, announces dollar-for-dollar ‘countermeasures’

He said Canada and Mexico had originally been exempted from the tariffs as North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations took place, but talks are “taking longer than we had hoped.”

“There is no longer a very precise date they may be concluded, therefore they’re added into the list of those who will bear tariffs,” the official said.

U.S. President Donald Trump had imposed the tariffs earlier this year, saying his country had been treated “badly” in trade relations.

At the time, Trump also cited national security reasons for the tariffs.

LISTEN: Expert discusses message being sent by the U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs

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Reaction to the announcement

Officials from several countries spoke out about the U.S. tariffs just after Ross made the announcement.

The European Union said it has no choice but to defend itself and its industries following the move, while a spokesperson said the U.K. government was “deeply disappointed.”

“The UK and other European Union countries are close allies of the U.S. and should be permanently and fully exempted from the American measures on steel and aluminium,” the U.K. statement read.

The EU and Mexico have also laid out retaliatory tariffs against the U.S.

Watch below: With the U.S. imposing tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminium, there are fears of an all-out trade war breaking out between the two countries. Tom Vernon looks at what impact that could have on Alberta.

— With files from The Canadian Press, Reuters and Global News reporter Amanda Connolly 

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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