Massive US tariffs have come into force as condemnation of the Trump administration’s move intensifies.
Criticism of the import tax on steel and aluminium from the EU, Canada and Mexico was joined by top congressional Republicans.
Leaders from affected nations reacted furiously, setting out tit-for-tat tariffs on the US, ranging from steel to sleeping bags and ballpoint pens.
France’s president told Mr Trump by phone that the US move was “illegal”.
Emmanuel Macron told him the EU would respond in a “firm and proportionate manner”, the Elysee Palace says.
The French president normally enjoys a good relationship with his US counterpart.
Mr Trump has justified the tariffs, which came into force at midnight Washington DC time (04:00 GMT Friday), by arguing that US steel and aluminium producers are vital to national security and threatened by a global supply glut.
That rationale was rejected by allies. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described that claim as an affront: “That Canada could be considered a national security threat to the United States is inconceivable.”
UK International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said the 25% levy on steel was “patently absurd”, adding: “It would be a great pity if we ended up in a tit-for-tat trade dispute with our closest allies.”
Gareth Stace, head of trade body UK Steel, said the tariffs were “no way to treat your friend” and called on the government to safeguard the industry’s 31,000 jobs.
Germany’s economy minister, Peter Altmaier, hoped a decisive EU response would make Mr Trump reconsider his decision and said Europe may work with Canada and Mexico.
Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said his country would also impose duties: “We will continue to defend the interests of Mexico, just as we have done until now.”
Opposition to the tariffs was also voiced by congressional Republicans. House Speaker Paul Ryan, the most influential Republican in Congress, said the move “targets America’s allies when we should be working with them to address the unfair trading practices of countries like China”.