The formation of the World Trade Organization and the advent of trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement among the U.S., Mexico and Canada reduced tariffs or eliminated them altogether.
Tariffs will be next.
European Union countries have also given broad support to its plan to set its own duties of 25 percent on 2.8 billion euros ($3.3 billion) of US exports, including bourbon and motor-bikes to "rebalance" the USA tariffs on 6.4 billion euros of European Union metals. United States denim, bourbon, motorcycles, peanut butter, motor boats and cigarettes are also in the firing line.
Ms Malmstrom also announced the European Union will be taking China to the WTO over alleged intellectual property practices, which bar market access to overseas companies without the granting of sensitive technology to Chinese firms.
The United States on Thursday imposed tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from key allies the Europe Union, Canada and Mexico, Reuters reported. He blames what he calls their abusive trade policies for America's persistent trade deficits - $566 billion a year ago.
This rebalancing could enter force from June 20, with tariffs on a second list of products from March 2021, although this will first need a formal decision by the EU's 28 member states.
"The last time it was the Bush administration that imposed tariffs on steel". If the WTO has not issued a ruling within three years, the tariffs could be implemented unilaterally.
The U.S. tariffs go into effect Friday.
Quitting Nafta would be yet another explosive and controversial trade move by the Trump administration. That could spark another round of escalation.
Sometimes, the USA will impose additional duties on foreign imports that it determines are being sold at unfairly low prices or are being supported by foreign government subsidies. We are not seeking to escalate the situation. That's quite possible: Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says talks are continuing, and constancy in policy hasn't been a feature of Trump's presidency. "They're targeted. We also, though, want to do this in a way that's appropriate", Morneau said.
Opponents of the tariffs on European and North American metals say the administration is hurting allies when it needs them most to put pressure on Beijing.
Trump said he "loves" both Canada and Mexico but accused them of taking advantage of the United States through through unfair trade arrangements.
The Mexican government plans to retaliate with comparable penalties on United States products including lamps, pork, fruit, cheese and flat steel.
Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said Friday the USA tariffs on steel and aluminum are "extremely regrettable", and that Tokyo could file a challenge with the World Trade Organization. Last year, Bay State businesses exported almost $3 billion in goods to Canada and another $2.5 billion to Mexico.
Underscoring that Washington D.C. has a United States dollars 2 billion surplus on steel with Ottawa, the Canadian Prime Minister said, "The reason I don't know [what he wants] is because he's talked about the fact that he's anxious about trade surpluses, trade deficits around the world".