US hits EU, NAFTA pals with metal tariffs

The US says it is moving ahead with tariffs on aluminium and steel imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union, ending a two-month exemption and potentially setting the stage for a trade war with some of America's top allies.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told reporters on Thursday in a telephone briefing that a 25 per cent tariff on steel imports and a 10 per cent tariff on aluminium imports from the EU, Canada and Mexico would go into effect at midnight Washington DC time on Friday.

"We look forward to continued negotiations, both with Canada and Mexico on the one hand, and with the European Commission on the other hand, because there are other issues that we also need to get resolved," he said.

Ross offered little detail about what the EU, Canada and Mexico could do to have the tariffs lifted.