US isolated as trade outrage roils G7 ministerial meet

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"The idea that we are somehow a national security threat to the United States is quite frankly insulting and unacceptable", he further added.

"If the US rolls out trade measures including tariffs, all the agreements reached in the negotiations won't take effect", state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Sunday, citing a statement from the Chinese team that met with a USA delegation led by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

Earlier, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland announced that Ottawa is imposing retaliatory tariffs, which would be "the strongest trade action Canada has taken in the post-war era".

Canada announced retaliatory tariffs on aluminum, steel and a number of consumer goods after Trump implemented the steel and aluminum tariffs.

Canada is not alone in its fight: The US measures also struck other G7 nations - and those partners have returned fire with potential tariffs of their own.

"One of the things that I have to admit Im having a lot of trouble getting around is the idea that this entire thing is coming about because the president and the administration have decided that Canada and Canadian steel and aluminum is a national security threat to the United States", he said.

Trump is also defending his decision to hit Canada, Mexico and the European Union with hefty steel and aluminum tariffs, a move that some observers say has made the NAFTA efforts that much more of a challenge. "And I would just say to all of Canada's American friends - and there are so many - seriously?"

He further said that the retaliatory tariffs would only be applied to United States goods and would come into effect from July 1.

The United States has been singled out by some of its closest allies over the imposition of tariffs that they warn will undermine open trade and weaken confidence in the global economy.

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"This is a trade dispute, if you will".

His strong words followed swift responses to his tariffs by Canada, Mexico and the European Union, which all plan to retaliate with levies on billions of dollars of U.S. goods from orange juice and whiskey to blue jeans and Harley-Davidsons. They cite a 35 per cent drop in steel industry jobs in America over the last 20 years as foreign steel displaced USA production and a 58 per cent drop in aluminum production jobs between 2013 and 2016.

The G7 ministers urged US Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin to deliver their message before leaders of the group's member countries meet next week in Quebec.

"To be honest with you, I wouldn't mind seeing NAFTA where you'd go by a different name where you make a separate deal with Canada and a separate deal with Mexico", he said.

In addition to asking the U.S.to reconsider and reverse the tariffs, the six finance leaders noted that because of the actions taken by the USA, "collaboration and cooperation has been put at risk".

Meanwhile, the Chinese government-following high-level talks between U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and China's Vice Premier Liu He-issued a statement warning, "If the United States introduces trade sanctions including raising tariffs, all the economic and trade achievements negotiated by the two parties will be void".

His opinion was echoed by French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire who said that Mnuchin was alone on the tariff issue, with the group becoming a "G6 plus one" as the other six G7 members had expressed "total incomprehension" over Washington's move. He exempted Canada, Mexico and the European Union pending additional talks to ease USA concerns. "This doesn't happen that often at G7 meetings, but it was USA against everyone else", Aso said. "Trump is responding to several decades of trade abuses here", he said.

However, readily available Canadian substitutes for these USA goods could get a boost as result, said Joanne McNeish, an associate professor at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University.

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