Mexico, the EU and Canada immediately announced plans to retaliate with their own tariffs against American products.
Trump announced worldwide steel and aluminum tariffs in March but granted exemptions to some major trading partners.
Canada, Mexico and the EU were among the countries granted relief while the United States pursued negotiations to address the administration’s concerns about the state of domestic steel and aluminum production. Those negotiations had a Friday deadline.
Trump imposed the steel and aluminum penalties under a 1962 law that gives the president broad power to increase or reduce tariffs on goods deemed critical to national security.
“We take the view that without a strong economy, you cannot have strong national security,” Ross told reporters.
Trump’s announcement lifted American steel and aluminum stocks because those companies stand to benefit from penalties against their foreign competitors. U.S. Steel climbed 3%. But the broader market sank because of trade war fears. The Dow fell about 200 points.
Mexico quickly said the US action was not justified, and vowed to retaliate with comparable penalties on American lamps, pork, fruit, cheese and flat steel.
Europe also said it would start the process for enacting retaliatory tariffs. It did not announce details, but the bloc has previously threatened 25% tariffs on US products such as motorcycles, denim, cigarettes, cranberry juice and peanut butter.
“Today is a bad day for world trade,” EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström said in a statement. “We did everything to avoid this outcome.”
Canadian officials said at a press conference that Canada would enact tariffs on $12.8 billion in US exports, effective July 1, to retaliate against Trump’s action.
“Let me be clear,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. “These tariffs are totally unacceptable.”