(Bloomberg) -- The Trump administration is expected to announce on Thursday that it will impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the European Union, Canada and Mexico, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The decision is coming hours before temporary exemptions were due to elapse at 12:01 a.m. in Washington on Friday. Unless last-minute deals are reached, the move would mark the Trump administration’s most aggressive trade action yet against major trading partners, which had been asking for permanent relief.
Fears of a global trade war are mounting as the Trump administration also considers tariffs on U.S. auto imports and duties on $50 billion in Chinese goods. The International Monetary Fund has warned that a wave of protectionist forces are the biggest risk to the global economic outlook.
In March, Trump imposed 25 percent duties on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum, but he gave temporary reprieve to a handful of allies for further talks to take place.
The EU had said it wouldn’t make trade concessions to gain a permanent exemption, and vowed to respond firmly to the imposition of tariffs. The 28-member bloc has threatened to complain to the World Trade Organization and impose counter-tariffs on 2.8 billion euros ($3.3 billion) of American imports as soon as June 20. EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom has said the details of the U.S. decision would guide the EU’s response.
Canada and Mexico also rejected the Trump administration’s suggestion of linking tariff relief to the outcome of ongoing talks to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement.
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