| 12:09 PM EST

U.S. to Impose Steel, Aluminum Tariffs on Canada, EU, Mexico

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The White House says it will begin protective tariffs at midnight on Thursday on aluminum and steel imported from the European Union, Canada and Mexico.

The move is an attempt by the Trump administration to pressure the EU into trade concessions and force a resolution with Canada and Mexico to stalled negotiations to update the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Temporary exemptions for those trade partners expired last Friday. Both groups had asked for permanent relief from the tariffs of 10% on aluminum and 25% on steel, citing their roles as the U.S.’s closest allies.

But U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross tells reporters that progress on both sets of negotiations has been too slow. He says the U.S. remains “willing and eager” to continue discussions and is awaiting their response to tonight’s action.

Many analysts fear the response will be prompt retaliation against U.S. goods, thereby triggering a trade war that results in more harm than good for everyone. They warn that a protracted trade battle will raise prices, slow U.S. economy growth and result in higher unemployment.

The Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Assn. says the U.S. tariffs on aluminum and steel will cause major disruptions in the global automotive supply chain. Ann Wilson, MEMA’s head of government affairs, notes that certain specialty metals are available from only one or two sources in the world.

EU and NAFTA negotiators have rejected the Trump administration’s aim of linking permanent relief from the protective tariffs to the outcome of the two regional trade negotiations. The White House also is poised to impose protective tariffs against China and has begun a process that could lead to similar levies on imported cars.

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