Barrie, ON – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is calling Donald Trump’s plans for whopping tariffs on steel and aluminum imports an “unacceptable” move that will have “significant and serious” economic ramifications on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border.
Trudeau, however, was not clear Friday about whether or not he’s spoken to the American president since Trump announced the planned tariffs on Thursday.
“Obviously the integration of the North American steel and aluminum market is something that has created millions of good jobs on both sides of the border and has benefited companies, workers and individuals right across North America,” the prime minister told a news conference in Barrie, Ont.
“The United States has a $2-billion surplus on steel with us, so we regard the imposition of any new tariffs or any tariffs on steel or aluminum between our two countries as absolutely unacceptable.”
What’s more, he added, it makes no sense for the U.S. to claim there’s a national-security imperative for imposing the duties, given the level of security co-operation between the two countries.
“The level of co-operation and integration of our militaries, our defence of North America and our working together on a broad range of security issues means that it just makes no sense to highlight that Canada and Canadian steel or aluminum might be a security threat to the United States.”
Trump said Thursday that he plans to announce a 25 per cent tariff on steel and a 10 per cent tariff on aluminum that would go into effect next week. It remains unclear whether Trump will exempt Canada, which is the largest steel and aluminum exporter to the U.S.
Trudeau said he has spoken with Trump numerous times to press Canada’s case about the potential impact of trade-limiting tariffs and will continue to do so, but it wasn’t immediately clear how recently the two leaders had spoken.
“I have spoken a number of times directly with the president on this issue, highlighting the integrated nature of the North American steel and aluminum market, highlighting and reminding him of the close security co-operation that we have,” he said.
“I’ve highlighted that this is not something we wanted to see and we will continue to engage with all levels of the American administration in the coming days so that they understand that this proposal is unacceptable.”
Earlier Friday, Finance Minister Bill Morneau told a Montreal business audience that he has had a “constructive” discussion on the subject with his American counterpart, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Canada is a “staunch and permanent ally” of the U.S. and shouldn’t be affected if Trump declares a matter of national security to override trade rules and raise tariffs, Morneau said.
He declined, however, to say whether he believes Trump’s action could unleash a global trade war.
News from Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. © 2018