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Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said the tit-for-tat measures would complicate talks between the United States, Canada and Mexico to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that underpins trade between the neighbors.

The EU - along with Canada and Mexico - are now receiving a temporary exemption which expires Friday.

Canada, Mexico and Europe had been exempted from import duties of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum when they were first imposed in March, but those exemptions were to expire as scheduled on Friday.

Europe hit back at the U.S. after President Donald Trump slapped tough tariffs on European steel and aluminium earlier this week.

Brazil, Argentina and Australia have agreed to limit steel shipments to the United States in exchange for being spared the tariffs, the Commerce Department said.

"The U.S. now leaves us with no choice but to proceed with a [World Trade Organization] dispute settlement case and with the imposition of additional duties on a number of imports from the U.S. We will defend the Union's interests, in full compliance with global trade law", Juncker said in a statement. "As we have said, we will always stand up for our workers, and today we're announcing retaliatory measures to this attack on our industry".

'The United States has been taken advantage of for many decades on trade. "And in fact, our economies are so integrated at a military level that this is going to impact them [the U.S.] in a much more negative way". "It's not that we can't talk just because there's tariffs", he said.

Despite worldwide objection, the United States administration decided in March to impose a 25 per cent tariff on steel imports and a 10 per cent tariff on aluminium imports.

As its first step to challenge the USA tariffs, the European Union on Friday formally filed a request for consultations at the WTO.

"This is the strongest trade action Canada has taken in the post-war era", Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told a news conference Thursday.

Speaking to Sky News, the International Trade Secretary said he would not rule out retaliatory counter measures as "you can not look at every global issue through the prism of Brexit".

At midnight Thursday, the Trump Administration announced steep tariffs on metals imported from Canada, Mexico and the European Union.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said her country's complaint at the WTO was a response to "illegal" USA tariffs on imports of Canadian steel and aluminum.

The Republican lawmaker said Trump's actions will "raise prices on businesses" in the North Country and could cause Canadian firms to leave the region.

And then we'd have to retaliate again... and so the cycle of trade disintegration would continue.

Negotiations on a further exemption for Canada had focused on agreeing to US demands that NAFTA force auto makers to use more North American-made steel, the sources said.

"Tariffs on steel and aluminum imports are a tax hike on Americans and will have damaging consequences for consumers, manufacturers and workers", said Sen.