US put on notice by G7 allies over tariffs

G7 ministers had an angry message for Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on the US' metal tariffs

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.

The dispute over US president Donald Trump's new levies on steel and aluminium imports is driving a wedge in the G7 group of industrial nations.

Following Saturday's conclusion of a three-day meeting of G7 finance ministers, Canadian finance minister Bill Morneau issued a summary saying the other six members want Trump to hear their message of "concern and disappointment" over the US trade actions.

Allies including Canada and the European Union are threatening retaliatory tariffs.

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.

Ministers urged the US to abandon the tariffs ahead of the leaders' summit before the move causes deeper divisions within the G7.

"The international community is faced with significant economic and security issues, which are best addressed through a united front from G7 countries," said the summary, which was agreed to by the attending ministers.

"Members continue to make progress on behalf of our citizens, but recognise that this collaboration and co-operation has been put at risk by trade actions against other members," it added.

Bruno Le Maire, France's finance and economy minister, was blunt in his assessment of the Whistler meeting, where ministers confronted Mnuchin.

"It has been a tense and tough G7 - I would say it's been far more a G6 plus one than a G7," said Le Maire, who called the tariffs unjustified.

"We regret that our common work together at the level of the G7 has been put at risk by the decisions taken by the American administration on trade and on tariffs," he said.

The US president has said the tariffs are needed to protect US steel and aluminium industries vital to the nation's security.

Le Maire said it is up to the US to take action to rebuild confidence among G7 members and to avoid any escalation during the leaders' summit next week.

That meeting, which will be hosted by Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, will be Trump's first visit to Canada as president.