Canada will push US to 'reconsider' tariffs: minister

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Whistler (Canada) (AFP)

Canada and other key economies will push Washington to reconsider its decision to impose harsh metals tariffs on its allies, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Thursday.

The world's major economies were at the brink of trade war as Canadian and European officials vowed Thursday to retaliate against the United States after Washington said it would impose duties on steel and aluminum from Canada, Mexico and the European Union after a two-months reprieve.

Canada is the largest exporter of aluminum to the United States while the EU is the largest source of steel.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is due to dine Thursday evening in this Canadian mountain resort with his counterparts from the Group of Seven top global economies.

Morneau told reporters he would seize the occasion to object to the tariffs.

"Among friends sometimes you have disagreements. I'll be stating very clearly our disagreement with the actions they've taken," Morneau told reporters. "I have every expectation that our other allies around the table will express the same sentiments."

He said the finance officials will "try to encourage them to reconsider a decision we think is not in anyone's best interest."

Washington's multi-front confrontation has cast a pall over the G7 talks, a traditional mainstay of trade liberalization.

Earlier Thursday participants defended free trade, and more or less acknowledged that the meeting's agenda had been entirely upended by Washington's latest assault on the prevailing global trade regime.

"At the end of the day, if trade is massively disrupted, if the level of trust among economic actors is severely damaged, those who will suffer most are the poorest people," IMF chief Christine Lagarde said.