Canada could hit back this week with retaliatory measures after the U.S. slapped tariffs on aluminum imports.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland is expected to make an announcement about how the government plans to tackle the counter-measures Tuesday morning.
On Monday, Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said Canada is still trying to negotiate the dispute but will apply “the same policy we did last time” if deemed necessary.
“We had dollar-for-dollar tariffs,” Champagne said ahead of a two-day cabinet retreat in Ottawa.
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“Obviously we’re continuing to negotiate, but we’re going to be prepared to react, as we did last time. I think Canadians understand that we stood up and will stand up again for aluminum in Canada.”
U.S. President Donald Trump announced the reimposition of a 10 per cent tariff on some Canadian aluminum products during an event in Ohio on Aug. 6, claiming the U.S. aluminum business was “being decimated by Canada” and that Canada had broken a promise not to flood the U.S. market with the product.
The White House also cited national security concerns in explaining the Trump administration’s decision to restore the tariffs. The U.S. tariffs went into effect on Aug. 16.
Freeland previously called the U.S. decision “unwarranted” and said Canada would respond “swiftly and strongly” with retaliatory tariffs valued at $3.6 billion.
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Freeland’s announcement Tuesday follows 30 days of consultations by the government on aluminum and aluminum-containing products it is looking to subject to the tariffs.
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The list of potential targets includes goods such as appliances, drink cans, office furniture, bicycles and golf clubs.
Both Champagne and Freeland have vehemently denied Trump’s claims.
“Aluminum from Canada is no threat to national security in the United States. I think that’s more obvious than ever,” Champagne said Monday.
“When you’re looking at supply chains, which are going from global to regional, the real opportunity here is to think, ‘How can we build more in North America and sell to the world?’”
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In the past, Freeland has also emphasized that the “first casualties” of the reimposed tariffs would be American workers and consumers.
“The United States has taken the absurd decision to harm its own people at a time when its economy is suffering the deepest crisis since the Great Depression,” she said on Aug 7.
“In fact, the very washing machines manufactured at the Whirlpool plant where the president made his announcement yesterday will become more expensive for Americans and less competitive with machines produced elsewhere in the world.”
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Trump’s move comes on the heels of a U.S. presidential election in November and amid a steep economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. It also follows the renegotiated NAFTA, which came into force in July after years of work by Canadian, American and Mexican officials.
Trump previously used steep tariffs on steel and aluminum as a bargaining chip during those negotiations to pressure Canadian officials to cave to his demands.
— with files from the Canadian Press and Global News’ Amanda Connolly
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