Countries, especially major economies, should firmly oppose trade and investment protectionism and safeguard the normal international trade order, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on June 1.
Hua told a daily news conference that all countries should maintain a fair, open and rule-based multilateral trading system, with the World Trade Organization as a core, to promote sustained global economic recovery and growth. She made the remarks while responding to the decision by the United States to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum exports from the European Union, Canada and Mexico.
“Responsible countries should take responsible policies and actions to jointly inject positive energy for global stability,” she said. It is by no means an effective, beneficial or a constructive way to shift one’s own troubles onto others, she said.
“China is willing to work with relevant countries to continue to uphold multilateralism and international rules, advance the process of economic globalization and build an open world economy,” she added.
US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced the tariffs in a telephone briefing on May 31, ending months of uncertainty about potential exemptions.
Ross said talks with Canada and Mexico over the North American Free Trade Agreement are “taking longer than we had hoped”. He said negotiations with Europe have “made some progress” but not enough to merit an exemption.
The European Union, Canada and Mexico hit back, announcing retaliatory actions on goods imported from the US.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a news conference on May 31 that the US tariffs were “totally unacceptable”, and the country will stand up to US tariffs with retaliatory duties on up to C$16.6 billion ($12.8 billion) in US imports.
The Canadian tariffs, which Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said are proportional to the US duties, will be applied to US steel and aluminum as well as consumer products starting on July 1. These items will include yogurt, coffee, sugar, toilet paper, sailboats, mattresses, washing machines and lawn mowers.
Mexico said it was imposing wide-ranging “equivalent” measures to answer Washington’s latest move, and these will be in place until the US government eliminates its tariffs.
Its measures target pork legs, apples, grapes and cheese as well as steel－products from US heartland states that supported US President Donald Trump in the 2016 election.
Ildefonso Guajardo, economy minister of Mexico, said the US tariffs would affect $4 billion in trade between the two countries.
Meanwhile, the European Parliament condemned on May 31 the US decision to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on the European Union, urging the EU to react “immediately with a firm but proportionate” response.
The EU earlier threatened to counter by targeting US products, including Kentucky bourbon, bluejeans and motorcycles.
German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said the EU might team up with Canada and Mexico.