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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and several other world leaders, are not pulling any punches in the worldwide blowback to President Donald Trump's decision to put tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

Trudeau says he's already reached out to Canadian steel and aluminum producers to talk about upcoming short-term challenges after the USA moved to impose 25 per cent tariffs on some foreign steel and 10 per cent on aluminum, citing national security reasons.

The US tariffs coincide with - and could complicate - the Trump administration's separate fight over Beijing's strong-arm tactics to overtake US's technological supremacy. Canada will also launch challenges of the USA tariffs at the World Trade Organization and through a Nafta panel.

He didn't detail what measures his government is considering to help the industry.

Canada hit back at steep USA tariffs on aluminum and steel on Thursday, announcing retaliatory duties on up to Can$16.6 billion (US$12.8 billion) in American imports.

The announcement Friday morning (AEST) reignited investor fears of a global trade war as Washington's allies took steps to retaliate against American goods.

Trudeau, meanwhile, says it's impossible to seriously believe that Canada could ever be a national-security threat to an ally as close and important as the United States.

Chrystia Freeland, the country's foreign affairs minister, said Canada will levy penalties on U.S. products until President Trump relents. They are getting a 25-percent import tariff, like European steel got.

The measures will cover goods beyond aluminum and steel. The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, said "The EU believes these unilateral U.S. tariffs are unjustified and at odds with World Trade Organization rules".

The American Automotive Policy Council, which represents American automakers like Ford Motor Company and General Motors Company slammed the tariffs saying they "undermine the global competitiveness of the U.S. auto industry and invites retaliation from our trading partners".

Identical tariffs were also placed on imports from Mexico and the European Union.

Trudeau earlier deplored a decision by Trump to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

Despite weeks of talks with his EU counterparts, Ross said the United States was not willing to meet the European demand that the EU be "exempted permanently and unconditionally from these tariffs". Mexico was the third largest, behind South Korea.

But Washington rejected the latest offer from its neighbors to accept a larger United States share of North American auto manufacturing in exchange for the USA dropping other contentious demands.

The administration has argued that foreign production of steel and aluminium has driven down prices and hurt United States producers, creating what the Commerce Department has called a national security threat. Canada announced plans to slap tariffs on $12.8 billion worth of U.S. products, ranging from steel to yogurt and toilet paper.

USA stocks fell and Treasuries rose after the US' announcement and the European Union and Mexico's vows to retaliate.