Feds unveil counter-tariffs, offer metal and manufacturing industries up to $2B

30 June, 2018, 16:04 | Author: Natasha Holloway
  • Canada 'will not back down' over US metals tariffs

Canada announced retaliatory tariffs against the United States on Friday in response to the Trump administration's duties on Canadian steel and aluminum.

As temperatures and tensions increase, the measures targeting Can$16.6 billion ($12.6 billion) in U.S. steel, aluminum and consumer goods will take effect on Sunday, when Canadians celebrate a national holiday and just days before Americans celebrate Independence Day amid a heatwave expected in both countries.

The penalties will add 25 percent to the cost of USA steel, and 10 percent to aluminum and consumer goods.

Food and consumer items - everything from dishwashing liquid and powerboats to yogurt, ketchup and whiskey - will face 10 percent tariffs.

Many of the U.S. products were chosen for their political rather than economic impact.

The source, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the situation, said Freeland will announce the aid and reveal a list of USA goods that Canada intends to subject to retaliatory tariffs.

A month later the trade turmoil continues, however, with Trump and his officials taking aim at Trudeau personally, as well as other Canadian industries over what the USA president calls unfair trade practices.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says the measures are in line with moves from the European Union and Mexico.

The source said the assistance - to be spread over several years - would be similar to an C$867 million five-year package offered to Canadian softwood lumber producers in 2017 after Washington imposed tariffs.

"This is a perfectly reciprocal action", Freeland said.

Higher tariffs would "lead to a smaller GM, a reduced presence at home and overseas for this iconic American company, and risk less - not more - USA jobs", the largest U.S. automaker said.

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"Any trade action is disruptive on both sides of the border", Freeland said. She said she is confident that "common sense" will prevail. "Having said that our approach from day one of the [North American Free Trade Agreement] negotiations has been to hope for the best but prepare for the worst".

The Trump administration has said the tariffs are necessary to protect the steel and aluminium industries, arguing that their success is vital to America's national security.

Through its strategic innovation fund, Ottawa is also offering up to $250 million in support in an effort to reinforce the competitiveness of Canadian manufacturers and strengthen the integration of Canada's steel and aluminum supply chain. For example, Canada imports just $3 million worth of yogurt from the US annually and most of it comes from one plant in Wisconsin, the home state of House Speaker Paul Ryan. Orders are up in anticipation of retaliatory Canadian tariffs on USA gherkins.

Ottawa also unveiled 2 billion dollars ($ 1.5 billion) in aid for the two sectors. A WTO official said Friday that the organisation has not heard from the United States about reconsidering its membership.

But relations between these two neighbors have plunged to their lowest in decades, reaching new depths at the recent Group of Seven summit when Trump abruptly rejected the joint statement and insulted Trudeau.

The support measures are meant to help Canadian firms manage the tariffs as well as innovate for the future, he said.

Trump has long criticised the WTO for allowing countries such as China to impose high tariffs on American goods such as cars even as its economy has matured, though as president he's stopped short of pledging to withdraw from the group.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland gestures during a joint news conference on the closing of the seventh round of NAFTA talks in Mexico City, Mexico, March 5, 2018.

"I don't think we'll see any reaction from the Trump administration".

Bains, the economic development minister, said the support is aimed at helping firms adjust to the hard circumstances while enabling them to continue to innovate along the way. "If you want to change it you have to make serious proposals, but you don't just walk away", he said.


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