Mexico aims tariff countermeasures at key Republican-contested districts

The European Commission has said the EU should be permanently exempted from the tariffs

The European Commission has said the EU should be permanently exempted from the tariffs

Macron pledged the riposte would be "firm" and "proportionate" and in line with World Trade Organization rules.

"All we are trying to do here with the 232 tariffs is to provide our domestic industries an opportunity to earn a decent rate of return and invest in this country", he said.

"Any government that embarks on a protectionist path inflicts the most damage on itself", he added.

He also told French President Emmanuel Macron of the need to "rebalance trade with Europe", the White House said.

The trade penalties, 25% on imported steel and 10% on imported aluminum, take effect at midnight, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told reporters Thursday.

All taxes on imports harm American consumers, workers, and businesses.

Stock prices slumped amid fears of a trade war, with the Dow Jones industrial average falling almost 252 points, or 1 percent, to 24,415.84.

Mexico quickly said the USA action was not justified, and vowed to retaliate with comparable penalties on American lamps, pork, fruit, cheese and flat steel.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau criticized the USA decision, calling the tariffs "totally unacceptable" and their premise of Canada being a threat to national security "inconceivable".

Donald Trump's latest threat to impose auto tariffs on the basis of national security concerns - unlike the steel and aluminum tariffs announced today - should be taken for exactly what it is: A bluff.

The measures, which target pork legs, apples, grapes and cheese as well as steel and other products, will be in place until the United States government eliminates its tariffs, Mexico's Economy Ministry said.

Trudeau, meanwhile, calls it "inconceivable" that Canada could ever be a national-security threat to an ally as close and important as the United States.

"It's clearly going to have a negative impact on all the users of steel throughout the economy", said Emily J. Blanchard, an associate professor of business administration at Dartmouth University's Tuck School of Business.

Getting rid of the exemptions for Canada and Mexico could also complicate ongoing negotiations on NAFTA.

Opponents of the tariffs on European and North American metals say the administration is hurting allies when it needs them most to put pressure on Beijing.

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".

Brussels has previously threatened to slap tariffs on USA products including bourbon, motorcycles and blue jeans.

The UK said it was "deeply disappointed" by the U.S. decision, which followed weeks of negotiations.

Canada and Mexico, embroiled in talks with the USA to modernise the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), responded swiftly and German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said the European Union might team up with them.

Modern Age editor, Daniel McCarthy backed Donald Trump's decision on BBC Newsnight saying the United States "will win" a trans-Atlantic trade war with the European Union. Talks will continue, Ross said, and the president could unilaterally decrease tariffs also.

He promised to add Canadian tariffs on a number of American goods.

He said Mr Trump's decision had nothing to do with national security and was rather "protectionism".

Trump had offered the two US neighbors a permanent exemption from the steel and aluminum tariffs if they agreed to USA demands on NAFTA. But the NAFTA talks stalled.

European Union exports subject to the US duties are worth 6.4 billion euros.

"There are periodic disagreements between any two countries on any given set of topics".

The proposals are so complex that many observers have speculated that it would be easier to simply pay the existing 2.5 per cent vehicle import tariff than to try to comply with potential new USA rules in order to get duty-free NAFTA treatment.

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