In this April 27, 2018 photo a worker controls iron at the Thyssenkrupp steel factory in Duisburg, Germany.
WASHINGTON: The United States will impose harsh tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the European Union, Canada and Mexico as of midnight (0400 GMT Friday), Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced Thursday.
Ross said talks with the EU failed to reach a satisfactory agreement to convince Washington to continue the exemption from the tariffs imposed in March.
Meanwhile, negotiations with Canada and Mexico to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement are "taking longer than we had hoped" and there is no "precise date" for concluding them, so their exemption also will be removed, Ross told reporters.
EU will announce retaliation for US metal tariffs within 'hours'
BRUSSELS: The European Union will announce within hours steps to retaliate against harsh US tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from the bloc, EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker said Thursday.
The 28-nation bloc "will announce in the next coming hours counter-balancing measures," Juncker told a conference in Brussels after Washington said its new tariffs would be effective from 0400 GMT Friday.
Steel and aluminium: two strategic metals
The United States said Thursday it will impose harsh tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from the European Union, Canada, Mexico at midnight.
Following are facts about these strategic metals, including key producer countries and purchasers.
The production of steel - iron enriched with carbon - virtually launched the industrial revolution at the end of the 19th century. Today there are at least 3,500 different types of steel, distinguished by the amount of carbon, and the addition of other chemical elements.
China is by far the world's biggest steel producer with more than 831 million tonnes in 2017, followed by India and Japan with nearly 100 million tonnes. Last year the United States produced more than 81 million tonnes, Russia over 71 million and Germany, the biggest European producer, 43 million.
Among steel companies, Arcelor Mittal in 2016 was the world's leader producing 95 million tonnes. Five of the 10 largest companies were Chinese.
The main importer of steel is the United States, followed by Germany and China, according to United Nations data in 2016. The US mainly imports from Canada, Brazil and South Korea.
Steel is especially used in building construction and automobile manufacturing. It is also used in shipping, machinery and military equipment. Steel is found in tin cans and other objects in everyday life.
The cost of so-called hot rolled steel is around $700 per tonne in Europe, according to the latest estimates in the weekly Metal Bulletin of Unicredit bank.
The worldwide workforce in steel production is around five million people, according to the industry's main union Worldsteel.
Aluminium is made from the aluminia extracted from bauxite rock. Frenchman Paul Heroult and American Charles Martin Hall discovered separately in 1886 the process for producing aluminium on an industrial scale.
China produced nearly half of the world's 63 million tonnes of aluminium in 2017. The rest of Asia produced 3.9 milion tonnes and Western Europe 3.7 million tonnes, according to main producers' association World Aluminium.
The world's largest aluminium companies are Russia's Rusal, US giant Alcoa and numerous Chinese firms.
Like for steel, the United States is the number one importer of aluminium, followed by Germany and Japan, according to 2016 United Nations data. The US imports the metal from Canada as well as China and Russia.
Aluminium is a sought-after metal because it is light - three times lighter than steel - and it is resistant to corrosion. It is also a conductor of heat and electricity. It is mainly used in construction, manufacturing of cars and airplanes, in high tension lines, and also food packaging.
On the London Metal Exchange, a tonne of aluminium was worth around $2,270 on Thursday.