Specter of trade war after United States tariffs on EU, Mexico, Canada

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross leaves his hotel in Beijing

As the announced tariffs prompted threats of retaliation, and an immediate riposte from Mexico, several lawmakers in Trump's Republican Party urged a continuation of the exemptions for such major partners, instead of taking actions that risk a trade war.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross attended meetings at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris on Wednesday, and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer joins discussions in Paris on Thursday.

Mexico, for instance, plans to retaliate against the steel and aluminum tariffs by targeting US cheese, among other products.

U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to hit Canada - as well as Mexico and the European Union - was reported by the Washington Post on Wednesday, and confirmed to The Globe and Mail by a senior Canadian official and a U.S. industry source.

No last-minute deal: Many officials in the European Union were banking on a last-minute breakthrough deal that would have either extended exemptions to the tariffs, which were first introduced for global steel and aluminum imports in late April, or introduced a permanent exclusion from the tariffs.

Regarding the dispute with the United States, the EU says in a document submitted to the WTO that USA tariff measures "adversely affect exports of these goods from the European Union to the U.S.".

Moving ahead with the metal tariffs will escalate trade tensions, and potentially spark a trade war.

Previously Brussels pledged to retaliate the U.S. protectionist steps with its own 25 percent tariffs on United States products, including motorcycles, jeans cigarettes, cranberry juice and peanut butter.

The EU, for example, puts 10 per cent on auto imports, compared to 2.5 per cent charged by the U.S. Trump has regularly complained that other countries impose higher tariffs on imported vehicles than the US does.

"We will keep fighting", Turner said. He said that the country has taken advantage of them for a very long time. They must open their markets and take down their trade barriers!' he said.

European officials, bracing for the tariffs, have threatened to retaliate against USA orange juice, peanut butter, kitchenware, clothing and footwear, washing machines, textiles, whiskey, motorcycles, boats and batteries.

European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker said President Trump's tariffs were "totally unacceptable".

And speaking to reporters, Macron described the United States move as "a mistake in many ways because it responds to existing worldwide imbalances in the worst way - by breaking up and creating economic nationalism". But those negotiations have so far failed to result in a deal.

Justifying US steel tariffs based on national security concerns is "grotesque", according to Germany's steel industry association.

"It's very complicated", says John Brew, a trade lawyer at Crowell & Moring LLP.

"Today is a bad day for world trade", European trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström said in a statement.

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