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Mexico hits US pork, cheese, grapes in reply to Trump tariffs

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

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MEXICO CITY, Mexico (AFP) — Mexico announced steep duties Tuesday on a raft of US products ranging from whiskey to apples in retaliation for the "unilateral adoption" by Washington of steel and aluminium tariffs.

The Mexican economy ministry published a list of American products that will be subject to duties of between 15 and 25 per cent, including pork, cheese and grapes.

The products concerned are for the most part agricultural goods, but some metal-based products such as steel plating and tubing are also included.

"Mexico has the right to take measures with equivalent commercial effects," the economy ministry said in a statement explaining the tariffs.

Mexico and other US allies including the European Union and Canada have hit back after US President Donald Trump announced stinging steel and aluminium tariffs that came into effect on Friday.

"Mexico can adjust the composition of the list of products originating from the United States," the ministry warned.

The tariff increases are designed to hit areas that are politically favourable to Trump, such as pork production, Mexican experts said.

Mexico said on Monday it will file a complaint with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) after Trump decided not to extend a temporary exemption granted in March to the EU, Canada and Mexico.

On Friday, he imposed 25 per cent tariffs on steel imports and 10 per cent on aluminium imports from Mexico.

The EU and Canada had already opened legal challenges at the WTO.

Canada said proportional duties would be imposed on US steel, aluminium and consumer goods from July 1, while Brussels is also preparing tariffs on US products including bourbon, motorcycles and blue jeans.

Mexico submits that the tariffs were not adopted in accordance with relevant WTO procedures and also violate the 1994 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

The US decision, widely criticised on the international scene, came as the US, Canada and Mexico renegotiate the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), at the urging of Trump who called it a "disaster" for American jobs.

The White House's chief economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said Tuesday he had informed Canada of Trump's willingness to negotiate a separate agreement to replace NAFTA, a deal which remains vital for Mexico which exports nearly 80 per cent of its products to the US market.

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