US President Donald Trump's sanctioning of new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports portends trade war as the measure would raise hackles of many US partners.
The new tariffs will take effect in 15 days.
The president, however, said he would exempt Canada and Mexico, considering them as "a special case." North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations are under way.
Key US trade partners, including China, South Korea and Japan, balked at the measure.
China, the world's biggest exporter, accused the United States of carrying out protectionism in the name of national security, CNN Money said.
The Chinese Commerce Ministry called Trump's tariffs "a serious attack on normal international trade order" and said that Beijing is "firmly opposed" to the measures.
Some form of retaliation appears likely from China, with which the US traded more goods than any other country last year. Beijing will take "firm actions" if the tariffs inflict losses on Chinese businesses, Commerce Ministry official Wang Hejun said Friday.
directed much of his harsh rhetoric on steel toward China, the world's largest exporter
of the metal. But the vast majority of Chinese steel shipments go to other
countries. Barely 2% of the steel imported into the US
last year came from China,
according to data from S&P Global Platts.
The world's two largest economies buy and sell a huge amount of other goods from each other, though. Total trade between the countries reached $636 billion last year, according to US government data.
national security as a pretext to limit imports of South Korean steel is
"unjust," Trade Minister Paik Un-gyu said in a statement Friday
expressing his "displeasure" at the move.
South Korea will use Trump's
tariffs as an opportunity to seek new markets for its steel, the Trade Ministry
said in a statement. But it added that it will "do its best" to get
on the list of countries that are exempt from the restrictions.
South Korea is the sixth biggest US trading partner and a key military ally in Asia. It's also the third largest exporter of steel to
accounting for about 10% of US imports of the metal by volume, according to
S&P Global Platts.
Japan, another major US ally in Asia,
called Trump's decision to impose tariffs "regrettable."
"This measure might impact the economy and the cooperative relationship between Japan and the US," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Friday.
It said it
would study the move's impact on Japanese companies before responding further.
Japan is the fourth biggest
trading partner with the US.
It accounts for about 5% of steel imported to the US, according to S&P Global