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Finland's trade minister: Solution must be found to looming US steel, aluminium tariffs

Finland's Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Anne-Mari Virolainen says that a solution regarding looming aluminum and steel tariffs by the US must be found before a new deadline is reached in June.

File photo of steel worker in blast furnace. Image: David Hecker / EPA

Just moments before US tariffs on aluminium and steel were to go into effect, US President Donald Trump announced that his administration had postponed the imposition of steel and aluminum tariffs on the EU, Canada and Mexico until 1 June.

The tariffs, which many fear could trigger a global trade war, were scheduled to go into effect on Tuesday.

Finland's Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Anne-Mari Virolainen said the EU and the US need to reach a solution to the looming tariffs in sight by 22 May. That's when EU trade ministers are scheduled to meet, one week ahead of the Trump administration's new June deadline .

European trade ministers have said that the EU has worked on many levels with the US in order to avoid a trade war.

"The uncertainty continues. It's bad for all parties, and furthermore, [tariffs] don't solve the underlying problem of over-production," Virolainen told Finnish news agency STT.

Limited impact on Finnish economy

If the US goes ahead with its tariff plans on imported steel and aluminium in June, it would mean import duties of 10 or 25 percent on those products.

Such limited tariffs would not impact Finland very much however, as only two percent of its exported steel and aluminium ends up on the US market. According to Finland's Customs Board the planned tariffs would amount to some 73 million euros per year.

Regarding the rest of Europe, there is risk of a trade war if the US tariffs are implemented.

EU officials have said the union could in retaliation impose tariffs on US products like peanut butter, orange juice, bourbon whiskey and Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

A source told Reuters there would be no further extensions to stave off the US tariffs beyond the first of June.

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