Trump tariffs threat sparks fiery reaction

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Washington (AFP)

US President Donald Trump said he will sign off "next week" on tariffs on cheap steel and aluminum imports, which he insists harm domestic producers -- defying opposition in the White House and reviving fears of a trade war.

Here are reactions from around the world to Thursday's announcement:

- Canada -

"Any tariffs or quotas that would be imposed on our Canadian steel and aluminum industry would be unacceptable. Any such decision would have an impact on both sides of the border," said Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, who told parliament the situation was being followed "very carefully."

"It is entirely inappropriate to view any trade with Canada as a national security threat to the United States. We will always stand up for Canadian workers and Canadian businesses," added Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, pointing out the United States' $2 billion surplus in steel trade with Canada.

"Should restrictions be imposed on Canadian steel and aluminum products, Canada will take responsive measures to defend its trade interests and workers," she said.

- European Union -

"The EU will react firmly and commensurately to defend our interests," was the response of European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker.

"The Commission will bring forward in the next few days a proposal for WTO-compatible countermeasures against the US to rebalance the situation," he said in a statement, referring to the World Trade Organization.

He added the initiative seems to be "a blatant intervention to protect US domestic industry and not to be based on any national security justification."

"We will not sit idly while our industry is hit with unfair measures that put thousands of European jobs at risk," he said.

- United Kingdom -

"We are engaging with the US on what this announcement means in practice. We have been clear that we are particularly concerned by any measures that would impact the UK steel and aluminium industries," a spokesperson for the British government told AFP.

"Overcapacity remains a significant global issue and we believe multilateral action is the only way to resolve it in all parties' interests."

- Germany -

The German steel industry federation WV Stahl said the protectionist measures "violate the rules of the WTO" and will have a major impact on the country's steel market.