European Union retaliatory tariffs on United States products to come into effect on Friday

US President Donald Trump

The European Union is enforcing $3.4 billion United States in tariffs on USA products as of Friday in retaliation to duties the Trump administration has put on European steel and aluminum.

President Trump said the measures against the EU are meant to protect US national security interests, but the Europeans claim it can not be that close allies, many of them North Atlantic Treaty Organisation partners, would endanger USA security.

"We did not want to be in this position", European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said in a statement on Wednesday.

The US and European Union have imposed mutual tariffs.

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The United States has imposed tariffs on Canada, Mexico and £25bn in Chinese goods.

Asian stocks fell, extending the worst week for regional equities since late March, amid concern global trade restrictions will curb growth. That comes after the US put a 25 percent tariff on $34 billion of Chinese goods, to which Beijing responded by imposing an identical charge on the same amount of American goods.

European Union officials imposed duties on American goods worth £2.4bn (€2.8bn) today, including bourbon whiskey and motorbikes.

"The trade that we believe in is built on rules, trust and reliable partnership", President Jean-Claude Juncker said in a speech in Dublin last night.

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The EU, which is the world's biggest trading bloc, has taken its case to the World Trade Organization. Mexico retaliated against the move two weeks ago while Canada said it would place tariffs on U-S exports from July the first.

Mr Trump ran for the presidency on a vow to topple seven decades of American policy that had favoured ever-freer trade among nations.

If the plan were accepted, it would mean scrapping the EU's 10 percent tax on vehicle and auto imports from the USA and other nations and the US dropping the 2.5 percent duty it puts on similar imports from the EU.

He pledged to impose tariffs on imports from countries that Mr Trump said had exploited the US. "We're going to fix the problem of protectionism around the world, and we're going to fix it by making it more painful for those countries to do bad practices than to do the right thing, which is to lower the trade barriers and lower their tariffs".

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