President Donald Trump signed proclamations Thursday slapping USA tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum from nearly every country, with the penalties snapping into effect in 15 days.
Australia appears to be in a good position to avoid Mr Trump's hefty steel and aluminium tariffs.
He instituted the tariffs in spite of widespread opposition in his party.
Brazil, the second-largest exporter of steel to the US after Canada, is also the largest importer of USA metallurgical-grade coal to fuel the steel-making furnaces.
The EU has warned that it stands ready to slap "rebalancing" tariffs on about 2.8 billion euros ($3.4 billion) worth of USA steel, agricultural and other products, like peanut butter, cranberries and orange juice. China accounts for only a small fraction of us steel imports, but its massive industrial expansion has helped create a global glut of steel that has driven down prices. "More importantly, because of that, workers in our country have not been properly represented".
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Thursday that a trade war with the U.S.
"We have some friends and some enemies where we have been tremendously taken advantage of over the years on trade and on military", he said. Metal-consuming companies in the United States may also petition the Trump administration for carve-outs.
The 10-percent tariff on aluminum "will create a new $347.7 million tax on America's beverage industry, including brewers and beer importers, and result in the loss of 20,291 American jobs", Jim McGreevy, president and CEO of the Beer Institute trade group, said in a statement.
But the same official said it truly is a matter of national security - with six USA aluminum smelters shutting down the last few years, and just five remaining, and only two operating at full capacity, he said that leaves the U.S.at risk of having to import all its aluminum eventually. "There isn't anything about this that's going to turn out well for us".
"All countries will be welcome to discuss with the United States alternative ways to address the threatened impairment of the national security caused by their imports", the official said.
However, officials in China say that they don't want a trade war.
The United States will be imposing a 25% tariff on steel imports and a 10% tariff on aluminium imports.
The official also expect higher US tariffs to put South Korean carmakers, Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors, at a disadvantage in the USA market as it would increase their costs.
The policy Trump issued Thursday was watered down somewhat from the blanket tariffs he announced last week he planned to impose.
KIM LANDERS: But if you think about all of the confusion of the last week: I mean, is there a lesson here not to take President Trump's, even some of his public remarks: take it all with a grain of salt until you see something in writing?
But other officials told reporters that there was nothing ready to sign, and the afternoon meeting was left off the presidential schedule released Wednesday night. In making the long-awaited announcement Thursday, Trump says the US industry has been "ravaged by aggressive foreign trade practices".
The measures will be based on evaluation of the potential losses triggered by the USA trade actions, the ministry said in a statement on its website Friday.
Shares in China's steel and aluminum makers fell on Friday morning.
But Defense Secretary James Mattis questioned that premise, noting that military demand for steel and aluminum can be met with just 3 percent of domestic production.
Given that our biggest suppliers of foreign steel are close allies, Trump's rationale is not likely to fly.