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By Kelsey Johnson, Jun 24, 2018
U.S. President Donald Trump doubled down on his ‘fair trade’ agenda Sunday, threatening to retaliate against any country that does not eliminate “artificial” trade barriers for American goods.
“The United States is insisting that all countries that have placed artificial Trade Barriers and Tariffs on goods going into their country, remove those Barriers & Tariffs or be met with more than Reciprocity by the U.S.A.,” he tweeted.
“Trade must be fair and no longer a one way street!”
Trump’s latest social media message comes amidst an escalating global trade war and just days before several countries, including Canada, are set to impose new tariffs on a wide-range of American goods. The retaliatory tariffs are a direct response to Washington’s decision to impose a 25 per cent tariff on steel imports and a 10 per cent tariff on aluminum imports, arguing the goods threaten U.S. national security.
Canada, the European Union and Mexico had initially been exempted from the tariffs, with the United States excluding its North American counterparts because of the ongoing renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
At the end of May, however, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told reporters the exemption would not be extended past the June 1 deadline.
Hours later, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland held a joint press conference in Ottawa where they announced Canada’s $16.6 billion retaliatory tariff package, effective Canada Day.
If imposed, it would be the largest retaliatory trade action ever taken by Canada against its southern neighbour.
Trudeau told reporters during a press conference following the G7 Summit in early June that Canada would not “relish” engaging in a trade war with its largest trading partner.
However, the prime minister insisted Canada would “not be pushed around.”
In response, Trump, who has repeatedly insisted Canadian trade practices are “unfair,” came out swinging and personally attacked his Canadian counterpart on social media, calling Trudeau “very dishonest and weak.” He also criticized Canada’s dairy trade system.
Trump has mused about imposing a 25 per cent tariff on all vehicles crossing the U.S border. More than 80 per cent of the autos produced in Canada are sold to the United States.
On Sunday, Flavio Volpe, the head of Canada’s automotive parts manufacturers association, tweeted that were those tariffs imposed, it would hurt industry on both sides of the border.
As for steel and dairy, the United States currently has a trade surplus with Canada in both. Canada is also America’s largest supplier of steel.
A final list of targeted American goods is being assessed by the Department of Finance. Ottawa has said the tariffs will take effect July 1.
Canada has also challenged the American tariffs, which Trudeau has called “absurd,” at the World Trade Organization and under NAFTA.
The European Union and Mexico have followed suit and filed formal complaints at the WTO. Canada, the EU and Mexico all argue the American steel and aluminum tariffs are illegal under international trade rules.
The EU’s retaliatory tariffs, which target a cross-section of American goods including Levi Jeans and Kentucky Bourbon, are also set to take effect July 1.
Meanwhile, Indian officials told the WTO on June 13 they plan to impose retaliatory tariffs on some 30 U.S. products in protest of the steel and aluminum tariffs, effective August 4.
Mexico had also said it will retaliate against a number of American goods, including some pork products.
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