World Bulletin / News Desk
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told reporters on a conference call that the U.S. would begin instituting a 10 percent aluminum tariff on aluminum imports, and a 25 percent tariff on steel beginning Friday.
Canada, Mexico and the E.U. had initially been granted temporary exemptions to the import penalties after President Donald Trump announced them in March. The exemptions were set to expire at the end of the week.
The exemptions were made in the hopes of gaining other economic benefits for the U.S., but Ross reportedly said not enough progress had been made to warrant an extension.
During an interview with the CNBC television network, Ross sought to downplay the effects of the import duties, saying: "If the market, to the degree it was surprised, it will have to adjust to that. But markets adjust to facts."
But beyond markets, the economic penalties are likely to further rattle relations with some of the U.S.'s closest allies, some of whom are already facing the prospects of U.S. sanctions for seeking to abide by an agreement the U.S. and world powers brokered with Iran, but which Trump pulled the U.S. out of despite stiff opposition from Europe.
When Trump initially made the decision to institute steel and aluminum tariffs he did so under the pretext of national security, but the rationale has been balked at by the U.S.'s closest security partners in Europe, and Canada.
Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign minister, told reporters in Washington Wednesday that imposing the metals tariffs on Ottawa based on national security grounds was "entirely inappropriate" and "frankly absurd".
In Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel slammed the looming tariffs as at odds with World Trade Organization rules, and warned Berlin "will respond in an intelligent, decisive and joint way", according to The Associated Press.
The E.U., Canada and Mexico account for roughly half of the U.S.'s steel and aluminum imports, according to the New York Times.