The race is on for exclusion from Trump tariffs

This time, China can fight back against tariffs

The US clothing industry is reeling after US President Donald Trump went ahead with his threat to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, while the retail sector has called the move a "self inflicted wound on the nation's economy".

The European Union has warned that if the United States does not exempt North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members, they could retaliate with tariffs on US exports, including steel and agricultural products such as peanut butter, cranberries, and orange juice.

President Donald Trump stuck to his guns and formally announced heavy new steel and aluminum tariffs Thursday afternoon, despite fears from Republicans that it could start a trade war.

"Significant damage in South Korea's steel exports to the United States seems unavoidable", said Paik's statement. While the White House has exempted Canada and Mexico - for now - the European Union is already preparing to launch retaliatory tariffs against American products.

Brussels has gone the furthest in fighting back against Washington's shock measures, loudly announcing a list of United States products to hit with countermeasures if its exports are affected by the tariffs.

The EU produces 177 million tonnes of steel and exports around 5 million tonnes of steel to the U.S. every year, a small share, overall.

In 2002, former President George W. Bush had imposed steel tariffs of up to 30 per cent, The New York Times reported.

"I said, 'Good, open up the barriers and get rid of your tariffs, and if you don't do that, we're gonna tax Mercedes-Benz, we're gonna tax BMW'". However, it took on more urgency after Trump's tariff move.

"I'll have a right to drop out countries or add countries", he said. Under no reasonable interpretation of current market trends is the nation likely to become dependent upon steel or aluminum from potentially hostile foreign powers.

In Brussels, the officials also held a trilateral meeting.

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The UK would be affected by any tariffs applied to the European Union - at least until after it officially leaves the bloc.

The actions threatened and taken by the Trump administration have significantly undermined America's role as a proponent of free trade.

European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen warned Washington on Friday not to expect any concessions to win an exemption.

Along with a huge range of steel products, the EU's hit list of flagship American products lined up for counter measures includes peanut butter, bourbon whiskey and denim jeans.

He had earlier in the day singled out Germany for criticism.

Trump said the tariffs - which will come into effect after 15 days - will not initially apply to Canada and Mexico, and that close partners on security and trade could negotiate exemptions.

The EU is also maintaining a threat of counter-measures that would target USA imports ranging from maize to motorcycles, and may publish its list next week to allow industry and other interested parties to give their input.

Complicating matters, Trump indicated that the sparing of Australia was linked to an unspecified "security agreement" outside of trade policy. They wrote a letter to Trump on Friday urging him not to withdraw from the pact.

Speaking in the White House with a group of workers, Mr Trump confirmed the levy on steel imports and a 10% tariff on aluminium in response to an "assault on our country" from cheap overseas metal.

Brussels is also looking at "safeguard" measures to protect its industry - restricting the bloc's imports of steel and aluminum to stop foreign supplies flooding the European market, which is allowed under World Trade Organization rules.

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