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Theresa May hits Trump over 'unjustified' tariffs

Theresa May hits Trump over 'unjustified' tariffs
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British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday rebuked President TrumpDonald TrumpMcCarthy says he told Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene he disagreed with her impeachment articles against Biden Biden, Trudeau agree to meet next month Trump planned to oust acting AG to overturn Georgia election results: report MORE's steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, calling for the United Kingdom and the European Union to be permanently exempt from the duties.

"I am deeply disappointed at the unjustified decision by the U.S. to apply tariffs to E.U. steel and aluminum imports," May said.

May also rebuffed the Trump administration's claim that such tariffs were necessary to safeguard U.S. national security, noting that steel and aluminum from the U.K. and the EU are used in U.S. defense projects. 

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"The U.S., E.U. and U.K. are close allies and have always promoted values of open and fair trade across the world," she said. "Our steel and aluminium industries are hugely important to the U.K., but they also contribute to U.S. industry including in defence projects which bolster U.S. national security.

"The E.U. and U.K. should be permanently exempted from tariffs and we will continue to work together to protect and safeguard our workers and industries."

The statement was May's first direct response to the Trump administration's announcement that it would impose 25 percent tariffs on steel imports and 10 percent tariffs on aluminum imports from the EU, Canada and Mexico. 

The move has drawn criticism from some of Washington's most steadfast allies, and has pushed the U.S. to the brink of a trade war with the EU, which has opened up a case against the U.S. at the World Trade Organization

Officials in Canada, Mexico and the EU have also threatened to impose retaliatory tariffs against U.S. products, ranging from blue jeans to bourbon. 

The Trump administration first announced the tariffs in March, but offered temporary exemptions for the EU, Canada and Mexico. Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossOn The Money: Retail sales drop in latest sign of weakening economy | Fast-food workers strike for minimum wage | US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits Census Bureau racing to complete noncitizen data, watchdog says MORE said Thursday, however, that talks with the EU had not progressed enough to warrant another exemption.

The U.S. initially held off on imposing tariffs on Canada and Mexico as it sought to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. Ross said those talks have taken longer than expected, so the administration decided to levy tariffs on the two countries. 

"There is no longer a precise date when they may be concluded, so they were added into list of those who will bear tariffs," he said.