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The Trump administration is set to impose hefty steel and aluminum tariffs on the European Union, Canada, and Mexico beginning Friday, according to media reports.
“We look forward to continued negotiations with Canada and Mexico on one hand and with the European Commission on the other hand as there are other issues we need to get resolved,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told reporters, noting that the administration would make future decisions regarding tariffs and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) based on how the nations react to the tariffs.
Ross also emphasized that the decision to impose new tariffs did not mean the U.S. was no longer willing to participate in negotiations.
“If any of these parties retaliate that does not mean that there can’t be continuing negotiations,” Ross told reporters during a meeting of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
“Take the example of China: The tariffs that we've imposed went into effect on China on the 23rd of March and, as you’re well aware, we have continued to have trade negotiations with China," he said.
"So, the fact that we took the tariff action doesn’t mean that there cannot be negotiation.”
President Donald Trump first proposed tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum in March, a highly contested move that he said was the result of the American steel and aluminum industries being “ravaged” by foreign trade policies.
“It’s really an assault on our country,” he said at the time.
Shortly after announcing he would put those early tariffs in place, Trump said he would consider lifting them if a “new & fair” was made on NAFTA.
“We have large trade deficits with Mexico and Canada. NAFTA, which is under renegotiation right now, has been a bad deal for U.S.A. Massive relocation of companies & jobs,” he said on Twitter. “Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum will only come off if new & fair NAFTA agreement is signed.”
The president also announced earlier this week that he would place 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods and place restrictions on Chinese investments in American technology.
The list of goods that will fall under those tariffs is set to be released by June 15 and investment restrictions for Chinese entities investing in “industrially significant technology” will be announced by June 30.