"We've been down this road before - blanket protectionism is a big part of why America had a Great Depression".
The tariffs have faced sharp criticism in the U.S. from businesses and lawmakers, including Republicans typically allied with the president.
"The overwhelming objective is to level the playing field", Ross said, adding that United States goals include getting rid of trade barriers, protecting intellectual property and stopping forced technology transfers. "Reforms of trade rules are possible, but through negotiations in these fora and not through unilateral measures".
Ildefonso Guajardo pointed out in an interview today that Mexico actually buys more USA steel than it exports to that country.
Ildefonso Guajardo, Mexico's economy minister and chief trade negotiator, said the tariff decision led to tension in conversations with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Mr. Ross, but that talks are continuing.
The EU has threatened retaliatory duties on $3.3 billion of USA exports of products such as motorcycles, jeans and whiskey.
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China has already imposed duties on $3 billion worth of U.S. goods in retaliation for the steel and aluminium tariffs.
The Mexican government said it would levy import taxes on US exports of pork bellies, apples, cranberries, grapes, certain cheeses, and various types of steel.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has said Canada would retaliate if duties are imposed.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (seen here with President Trump in October) on Thursday called the argument that US steel import tariffs were necessary for national security reasons an "affront" to Canada. "American smelters and steel mills are reopening, which means more jobs and added capacity".
Ottawa will also challenge the US measures under NAFTA and at the WTO, said Trudeau. The U.S. produced 785,000 metric tons of aluminum and imported 5 million tons previous year.
FILE - Jose Mata grinds a steel pipe at the Borusan Mannesmann plant in Baytown, Texas, April 23, 2018.
Dr Fox said he had spoken to United States commerce secretary Wilbur Ross about the situation on Thursday and would do so again on Monday.
When asked how a tariff war would affect a US-UK trade deal, Fox said: "The US administration has made clear gains this week that they are very keen to see an agreement with the UK but regard steel imports as an European Union issue".
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"This is dumb. Europe, Canada, and Mexico are not China, and you don't treat allies the same way you treat opponents", said Sen.
The U.S. "may see this as a cost-free way of applying additional pressure".
The European Union immediately threatened retaliatory measures, as well as continuing its appeal to the World Trade Organisation dispute.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire criticized the tariffs. She said if there were no exemptions, "We will respond in an intelligent, decisive and joint way".
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called the U.S. tariffs "unjustified, unjustifiable and dangerous".
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told reporters in a telephone briefing that Washington would proceed with plans for a 25% tariff on steel and a 10% tariff on aluminium imports, although he said the door was still open for negotiations without specifying what measures could be taken. "It will change the way we do business but it will not hurt". Like Trump, Hatch is a member of the Republican Party.
The administration has argued that foreign production of steel and aluminum has driven down prices and hurt US producers, creating what the Commerce Department has called a national security threat.
"Our steel and aluminum industries are a source of critical supply for American manufacturers and its defence industry". George Grow was the editor.
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