The federal government will spend one month consulting with Canadians about which U.S. metals products to target with retaliatory tariffs as a new trade dispute flares up with the Trump administration.
The government intends to impose $3.6 billion in punitive countermeasures after a 30-day consultation with business leaders and other Canadians about potential targets from a preliminary list.
Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres (3.85 million square miles), making it the world’s second-largest country by total area. Its southern and western border with the United States, stretching 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world’s longest bi-national land border. Canada’s capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.
Various indigenous peoples inhabited what is now Canada for thousands of years before European colonization. Beginning in the 16th century, British and French expeditions explored and later settled along the Atlantic coast. As a consequence of various armed conflicts, France ceded nearly all of its colonies in North America in 1763. In 1867, with the union of three British North American colonies through Confederation, Canada was formed as a federal dominion of four provinces. This began an accretion of provinces and territories and a process of increasing autonomy from the United Kingdom. This widening autonomy was highlighted by the Statute of Westminster of 1931 and culminated in the Canada Act of 1982, which severed the vestiges of legal dependence on the British parliament.
Canada is a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy in the Westminster tradition, with a monarch and a prime minister who serves as the chair of the Cabinet and head of government. The country is a realm within the Commonwealth of Nations, a member of the Francophonie and officially bilingual at the federal level. It ranks among the highest in international measurements of government transparency, civil liberties, quality of life, economic freedom, and education. It is one of the world’s most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many other countries. Canada’s long and complex relationship with the United States has had a significant impact on its economy and culture.
A developed country, Canada has the seventeenth-highest nominal per-capita income globally as well as the thirteenth-highest ranking in the Human Development Index. Its advanced economy is the tenth-largest in the world, relying chiefly upon its abundant natural resources and well-developed international trade networks. Canada is part of several major international and intergovernmental institutions or groupings including the United Nations, NATO, the G7, the Group of Ten, the G20, the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
Canada to impose $3.6B in tariffs in response to Trump's move …
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“Canada will respond swiftly and strongly,” Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Friday.
Canada’s list of potential targets threatens to hit politically sensitive areas — namely, states critical to U.S. President Donald Trump’s re-election.
Canada to impose $3.6B in tariffs in response to Trump's move …
A disproportionate number of the more than five dozen items on Canada’s potential hit-list are from key U.S. election swing states, including paint dyes and aluminum waste, for which Michigan is a top exporter to Canada; refrigerators and bicycles, for which Wisconsin is the lead exporter; and aluminum powders and bars from Pennsylvania.
Canadian officials insisted the list wasn’t drawn up with the U.S. election in mind.
They said they were simply targeting products that use aluminum and happen to be produced in those states, under the terms of an agreement last year with the U.S. that sets rules for metals tariffs in North America.
That 2019 pact lifted across-the-board tariffs from the U.S. on Canadian steel and aluminum products, while setting limits on what products can be targeted in the event of a future dispute.
That dispute, it appears, has arrived.
Freeland made the announcement a day after Trump re-imposed tariffs of 10 per cent on certain aluminum products, ending a recent period of calm on the U.S.-Canada trade front.
Canadian products being targeted by the U.S. are used as raw materials in other aluminum-based goods. They comprise slightly more than half of Canadian aluminum exports to the U.S. over the past year.
Freeland said Canada would seek to avoid escalating the dispute, saying the retaliation would be reciprocal and limited in scope.
She did, however, blast the Trump administration — calling it the most protectionist in U.S. history. She called its rationale for new tariffs “ludicrous” and “absurd.”
She also said Americans would suffer more than anyone else. For example, she predicted a price increase on the very washing machines made at the Ohio plant where Trump announced the tariffs.
“Any American who buys a can of beer or a soda or a car or a bike will suffer. In fact, the washing machines Trump stood in front of yesterday will get more expensive.”
She called the tariffs “unnecessary, unwarranted and entirely unacceptable,” and said “a trade dispute is the last thing anyone needs” during an economic crisis.
The business community also lambasted Trump.
“Here we go again,” said Maryscott Greenwood of the Canadian American Business Council, saying this is an especially bad time to trigger a trade war.
“Poor timing, bad idea. I don’t know what else to say.”
In the U.S., a Wall Street Journal editorial accused Trump of retreating to his favourite political play — tariffs — in the hope of salvaging his struggling re-election bid.
“[This is] Mr. Trump at his policy worst,” said the paper, whose conservative editorial board usually supports Trump, but frequently criticizes him on trade policy.
Canada’s premiers are pressing Ottawa to punch back.
Ontario’s Doug Ford began a news conference Friday by raising the issue, unprompted. He said he feared steel tariffs might also be imminent, and expressed his annoyance with Trump.
WATCH | Ontario Premier Doug Ford reacts to Trump’s tariff announcement:
Ford said he’s disappointed by the U.S. president’s move, which comes in the middle of a pandemic. ‘Who does this?’ he asked. 0:51
“I just have to say how disappointed I am with President Trump right now,” Ford said.
“Who would do this [now, in difficult economic times]? Well, President Trump did this…. And I encouraged the deputy prime minister to put retaliatory tariffs as close as possible.”
Quebec Premier François Legault, whose province is an aluminum-producing hub, echoed the sentiment. He tweeted that he’d asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to impose counter-tariffs.
One Canada-U.S. trade insider said Canadian trade officials are usually quite tactical in trade disputes with the U.S., picking targets that cause political pain.
But he suspects any counter-tariffs now won’t sway Trump.
“Unfortunately, I do not believe that retaliation [will] be successful in today’s environment,” said Dan Ujczo, of the U.S.-based Dickinson Wright law firm.
He said the U.S. Congress is now too busy dealing with COVID-19 issues to fight Trump over these tariffs, at least until after the Nov. 3 American election.