European Union officials previously informed the World Trade Organization of the bloc's plan to levy duties on $7.2 billion worth of USA exports if the Trump administration proceeded with threats to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum.
After months in which it appeared the Trump administration had been backing away from tariffs amid infighting between the president's top economic advisers, Washington has over the past week ramped up its threats on trade.
The Commission has said the European Union will set duties on 2.8 billion euros (US$3.4 billion) of U.S. exports, including peanut butter and denim jeans, if its metals exports to the United States worth 6.4 billion euros (US$7.5 billion) are subject to tariffs.
"This is protectionism, pure and simple", he added.
Mexico announced it would retaliate on everything from pork to grapes to cheese, while European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the union will file a complaint with the World Trade Organization and slap its own duties "on a number of USA imports". He reiterated the US concerns over the indirect flow of cheap Chinese steel into the USA through other countries.
Financial markets dipped amid concerns about the disputes among trading partners, with the Dow Jones industrial average dropped more than 200 points.
The Canadian tariffs, which Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said are proportional to the USA duties, will be applied to United States steel and aluminum as well as consumer products.
In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the US tariffs "totally unacceptable".
"Trump is willing to take short-term blows in order to negotiate more aggressive trade deals", said Christian Lawrence, senior market strategist at Rabobank. Talks with Europe had "made some progress" but not enough for additional exemptions, he said in a conference call from Paris.
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Ross said talks with the European Union had failed to reach a satisfactory agreement to convince Washington to continue the exemption from the tariffs imposed in March.
"Without a strong economy, you can't have a strong national security", Ross said.
The EU said on Thursday it will impose retaliatory duties, a measure the bloc earlier indicated would target US$3.3 billion in American products from Harley-Davidson Inc. motorcycles to Levi Strauss & Co.'s jeans as well as bourbon whiskey.
In terms of the NAFTA talks, the tariffs could hinder the negotiations among the North American neighbours.
The tariffs take effect on July 1 and will last until the USA ends its move. Tariffs will remain on imports from Japan. "For every one job in the USA steel industry that could be protected by this tariff, there are about 80 jobs in manufacturing industries that use steel".
She said if there were no exemptions, "We will respond in an intelligent, decisive and joint way". "Now that we have clarity, the EU's response will be proportionate and in accordance with WTO rules".
Worries about a USA trade war with the European Union weighed on Wall Street stocks.
"Over the past months we have continuously engaged with the United States at all possible levels to jointly address the problem of overcapacity in the steel sector", says European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
"By targeting those who are not responsible for overcapacities, the United States is playing into the hands of those who are responsible for the problem". The administration's plans could change if the two sides are able to reach a last-minute agreement, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. The move turns a threat and negotiating ploy into an action, which will bring real consequences in the form of retaliatory tariffs on USA exports.