Trump announced the new measures during a meeting with industry executives at the White House Thursday.
Canada called the tariffs “unacceptable” and “inappropriate,” saying it hoped to receive an exemption from the policy, though the president plans to offer zero exemptions, according to The New York Times.
Mexico is considering slapping tariffs of its own on the United States in retaliation, the Financial Times reported. Brazil’s industry ministry expressed its “enormous concern,” threatening “multilateral or bilateral” action.
The European Union also plans to retaliate.
“We strongly regret this step, which appears to represent a blatant intervention to protect U.S. domestic industry and not to be based on any national security justification,” said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in a statement. “The EU has been a close security ally of the U.S. for decades. We will not sit idly while our industry is hit with unfair measures that put thousands of European jobs at risk,” said Juncker.
Australia’s trade minister Seven Ciobo, who said his country was also seeking an exemption from the tariffs, warned that these types of retaliatory measures from the U.S. were not the solution as they could hurt the global economy.
“If we see a break out of action and reaction from major economies the only thing that will arise from that will be a slow down of economic growth and over time if it got bad enough, ultimately we could see for example, a recession, and we know the consequent impact of that,” he said.
A Japanese trade official cautioned that the measures could spark an all-out trade war. “If trade restrictions are being put in place one after another, you’re opening a Pandora’s box and that’s the scariest part,” said Kosei Shindo, head of the Japan Iron and Steel Federation, earlier this week ahead of Trump’s announcement.
China, the country Trump has attacked the most for being unfair to the U.S. on trade, urged “the United States to show restraint in using protective trade measures, respect multilateral trade rules, and make a positive contribution to international trade order,” according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.
Trump himself seemed to relish the looming international confrontation over the policy shift, tweeting Friday morning that “trade wars are good, and easy to win.”
One apparent impetus for Trump’s policy announcement was a Commerce Department study released last month claiming that the state of aluminum and steel imports could endanger national security.
In announcing the new tariffs on Thursday, Trump focused his remarks on the current state of international trade not being beneficial to the U.S.
“People have no idea how badly our country has been treated by other countries,” he said. “They’ve destroyed the steel industry, they’ve destroyed the aluminum industry, and other industries, frankly.”