Beijing: China today demanded US President Donald Trump revoke his decision to impose steep trade tariffs on foreign steel and aluminium, saying it “firmly opposed” the move which will seriously undermine international trade order.

Trump today imposed heavy tariffs on imported steel and aluminium which he said were necessary to boost the US industry suffering from “unfair” business practices, a move that has sparked fears of a global trade war.

Trump signed two proclamations that levied a 25% tariff on steel and a 10% tariff on aluminium imported from all countries except Canada and Mexico.

The contentious tariffs, worth billions of dollars, will go into effect in 15 days.

China’s Commerce Ministry said it “firmly opposes” Trump‘s move which will lead to “a serious attack on normal international trade order”.

Last year, China’s steel exports to the US constituted about 2.9% of the 35.6 million tonnes of the metal imported annually by America.

The tariffs were based on national security grounds, but the majority of steel and aluminium was for civilian use, Wang Hejun, a senior official at the ministry said.

Abuse of the clauses on national security would damage the World Trade Organisation and another multilateral trade system, Wang said.

China, world’s second-largest economy, will take measures to defend its legitimate rights and interests, he said

China urged the US to respect the multilateral trade system and revoke the policy as soon as possible, Wang said.

Trump has exempted Canada and Mexico from the tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium because of their status as regional allies.

China, which ranks 11 among the largest sources of US steel imports, was also the only country named in a White House statement on the tariffs, amid a worldwide glut of aluminium that has shuttered US smelters.

Trump also hinted at further punitive measures aimed at China to rein in a bilateral trade deficit with China pegged at a record $276 billion last year.

A separate statement by the China Iron and Steel Association said the move not only damaged the iron and steel industry across the world but damaged the interests of consumers, especially American consumers.

Iron and steel trade has been the sector worst-hit by China-US trade frictions.

Before the Trump administration’s Section-232 investigation, dozens of anti-dumping and countervailing measures had been imposed on almost all iron and steel products, with some tariffs already almost prohibitively high.

The association called on the government to take firm counter-measures against imports from the US, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

PTI