The United States has only a few days to take some urgent action if it wants to avoid a full-scale trade war with its European allies, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire warned during a G7 meeting.
“We still have a few days to take the necessary steps to avoid a trade war between the European Union (EU) and the US and prevent a trade war between the G7 members,” Le Maire told reporters after a meeting of finance ministers of the G7 in Canada at the Whistler Mountain Resort in British Columbia. He added that it is up to the US to take the first step.
“The ball is in the United States’ court. It is up to the US administration to make the right decisions to ease the situation and ease the difficulties,” he added. Other senior officials from the world’s leading economies joined the French minister in calling for urgent action.
The summary statement of the ministerial meeting stated that “collaborative partnerships to promote free, fair, predictable and mutually beneficial trade” should be restored. G7 ministers also urged US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to voice his “unanimous concern and disappointment” over recent US decisions to impose tariffs on EU, Canadian and Mexican metal imports.
On Thursday, Washington hit its allies with import tariffs on steel and aluminum after failing to secure concessions from its trading partners. The new measures, including a 25% tariff on steel imports and a 10% tariff on aluminum imports, came into effect at midnight on Friday.
The measure immediately provoked an angry reaction from the EU, which had already submitted its own list of American products that should be taxed in retaliation, ranging from jeans and canoes to chewing tobacco and playing cards. In particular, it includes a 25% import tariff on Harley-Davidson motorcycles and bourbon whiskey, items produced in the constituencies of some of President Donald Trump’s domestic political allies.
The EU is not alone in its desire to return to normalization. Canada and Mexico also vowed to retaliate against the new US tariffs.
Canada plans to impose similar taxes on US steel and aluminum imports as well as to levy taxes on products such as whiskey, orange juice and other food products. The list of Mexican tax targets includes pork, sausages, food preparations, apples, grapes, blueberries and cheeses, as well as steel.