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White House to Impose Metal Tariffs on E.U., Canada and Mexico | The New York Times

Along with fighting the tariffs at the World Trade Organization, European officials have been preparing levies on an estimated $3 billion of imported American products in late June. In a joint statement, ministers from France and Germany said the countries would coordinate their response.

“Global trade is not a gunfight at the O.K. Corral,” Bruno Le Maire, France’s finance minister, said on Thursday after meeting with Mr. Ross. “It’s not about who attacks whom, and then wait and see who is still standing at the end.”

Whether American consumers and companies get caught in the crossfire depends on how it all plays out.

After the tariffs took effect on China, Russia, Japan and Turkey in late March, prices on steel and aluminum broadly began to rise.

American metal manufacturers say that has helped to level the playing field. Century Aluminum, which has supported the tariffs, said the action “protects thousands of American aluminum workers and puts U.S. national security first.”

But it has left businesses that rely on imported metals, like beer makers, auto manufacturers and others, exposed. And now that the tariffs will hit America’s closest allies, some early supporters are changing their view.

Canada is the largest supplier of both steel and aluminum to the United States, and the supply chains for many products snake back and forth across the border. The United Steelworkers union, which represents members in Canada as well as the United States, said the decision called “into serious question” the design and direction of the administration’s trade strategy.

“The regular chaos surrounding our flawed trade policies is undermining the ability to project a reasoned course and ensure that we can improve domestic production and employment,” the union said in a statement.

The Aluminum Association, the industry trade group, also said it was disappointed. Heidi Brock, the group’s president, said the tariffs would do little to address the larger issue of overcapacity in China “while potentially alienating allies and disrupting supply chains that more than 97 percent of U.S. aluminum industry jobs rely upon.”

The steel and aluminum tariffs already appear to be hurting construction companies, retailers and manufacturers — by raising their costs and injecting uncertainty into the price and availability of the metals going forward.

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White House to Impose Metal Tariffs on E.U., Canada and Mexico – The New York Times.

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