Canada's Trudeau tells metal workers 'we have your backs'

Frederick Owens
March 13, 2018

Freeland is coming off a tense week which started with the seventh round of NAFTA negotiations making little progress towards an agreement but ended with a sigh of relief when Canada and Mexico secured an exemption from new USA tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. At the time of the signing, Trump had included exemptions only for US North American Free Trade Agreement partners Canada and Mexico.

Trump stoked the fire on Saturday by suggesting even broader tariffs for the European Union if they don't address still-unspecified concerns.

After announcing his intention to impose steep tariffs on March 2, Trump tweeted, "When a country is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good and easy to win". Over the weekend, he said in a tweet that the European Union could potentially be exempt from the steel and aluminum duties "if they drop their horrific barriers & tariffs on USA products going in ..."

Another is that the increase in steel and aluminum costs could penalize American companies that rely on them to make crucial things like beer cans and cars.

Shadow International Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner criticised Fox for taking 10 days to make a statement to the House of Commons following the Trump administration's announcement of tariffs.

And Douglas Porter, chief economist at the Bank of Montreal added, "We're pretty consistently flabbergasted that Canada is at the top of the hit parade of trade villains in Trump's eyes".

"We are ready to take action whenever action is required. we had your backs last week and we always will", Trudeau said after visiting a Rio Tinto Ltd smelter in Alma, Quebec, his first stop on a tour this week of Canada's steel and aluminum regions.

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And that doesn't factor in the costs borne from retaliation taken by foreign partners against unrelated US industries.

The EU exports around five billion euros ($4 billion) worth of steel and a billion euros worth of aluminum to the U.S. each year, and the European Commission, the bloc's executive arm, estimates Trump's tariffs could cost some 2.8 billion euros.

"Cherry-picking particular tariffs in one category, like looking just at auto tariffs on both sides, misses the whole picture, while not taking into account lower levels on other products does not give an accurate picture of tariffs in general", a Commission spokesman said. It was still hoping for clearer indications about the exemption process.

The EU has been talking with partners about a legal challenge at the World Trade Organization to Trump's plan and is considering safeguards to prevent steel and aluminium, diverted from the United States, flooding into Europe.

"We're doing tariffs on steel".

Steel workers build a structure in Ottawa, Canada. "It has a negative impact on the NAFTA talks". "Industries that are net consumers of steel and aluminum in the USA now face cost disadvantages relative to their worldwide competitors, especially at a time when the labor market is tight and wage inflation is picking up", he wrote.

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