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Canada to impose retaliatory tariffs on C$3.6 billion worth of U.S. goods

Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland

PortandTerminal.com, August 7, 2020

Canada hoping new tariffs will be short-lived | Senior Canadian officials increasingly sure that Trump will lose the Nov. 3 presidential election

OTTAWA – Canada will slap dollar-for-dollar retaliatory tariffs on $2.7 billion worth of U.S. aluminum products after the United States said it would impose punitive measures on Canadian aluminum imports, a senior official said on Friday.

The move by the US to apply tariffs on Canadian aluminum comes less than 40 days after the United States, Mexico and Canada signed the new NAFTA replacement trade agreement “USMCA”. Some suggest the fact that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau chose to skip the treaty’s signing ceremony in Washington certainly may have irked President Trump who does not take any loss of personal face easily.

Chrystia Freeland announces retaliatory measures

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland told a news conference the countermeasures would be put in place by Sept. 16 to allow consultations with industry.

“Let me be clear. In imposing these tariffs the United States has taken the absurd decision to harm its own people at a time when its economy is suffering the deepest crisis since the Great Depression. Any American who buys a can of beer or soda, or a car or a bike will suffer” Freeland said in her statement.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday moved to reimpose 10% tariffs on some Canadian aluminum products to protect U.S. industry from a “surge” in imports. Canada denies any impropriety.

“A trade dispute is the last thing anyone needs – it will only hurt an economic recovery on both sides of the border. However, this is what the U.S. administration has chosen to do,” said Freeland.

“We do not escalate and we do not back down,” she said later, describing the U.S. decision as unjust and absurd.

The Canadian list of goods that might be subject to tariffs include aluminum bars, plates, household articles, refrigerators, bicycles and washing machines.

America’s former US Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman tweeted in response to the tariff announcement that “President Trump is trying daily to distract us from the fact 158,000 Americans are dead and we have economic crisis for many out of work. Today he is hitting Canada with Aluminum trade tariffs meant for national security. This is a political stunt and only hurts Americans.”

It is the second time in two years that Canada has struck back at Trump over trade. In 2018, Ottawa slapped tariffs on $12.5 billion worth of American goods ranging from bourbon to ketchup after Washington imposed sanctions on Canadian aluminum and steel.

Canadian officials may be calculating that the measures will be short-lived. An Ottawa source briefed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office said Canadian officials are increasingly sure that Trump will lose the Nov. 3 presidential election to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Trump acted just weeks after a new continental trade pact between the United States, Canada and Mexico took effect. The North American economy is highly integrated and Canada sends 75% of all its goods exports to the United States.

The premier of Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, said earlier on Friday that he had encouraged Freeland to impose tariffs on as many U.S. goods as possible.

“For the President to come and attack us during these times, during a pandemic when we need everyone’s support, is totally unacceptable,” Doug Ford told a news conference.

With reporting by Reuters

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