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 John TrumpNew EPA rule would expand Trump officials' powers to reject FOIA requests Democratic senator introduces bill to ban gun silencers Democrats: Ex-Commerce aide said Ross asked him to examine adding census citizenship question 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 RossDemocrats: Ex-Commerce aide said Ross asked him to examine adding census citizenship question Apple in front lines of Trump trade war Supreme Court set to deliver ruling on census citizenship question 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.