Canada strikes back at USA steel and aluminium tariffs

President Trump meets with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the G-7 summit in Charlevoix Canada

President Trump meets with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the G-7 summit in Charlevoix Canada. Evan Vucci AP

Canada has slammed the USA with counter-tariffs on C$16.6 billion (US$12.6 billion) of American goods, while pledging money to support companies and workers hurt by U.S. levies on Canadian steel and aluminium exports.

Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, visited Stelco in Hamilton on Friday, June 29, 2018 where she met with employees in the cold rolling plant and announced the government's latest efforts in response to USA tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland unveiled the details - including a finished list of the targeted USA products - during a news conference at a steel factory in Hamilton.

"We are perfectly within our rights to respond", said Freeland, who was joined at the announcement by Trudeau cabinet colleagues Patty Hajdu and Navdeep Bains.

Jim Watson, a Liberal Party politician serving as Ottawa's mayor since 2010, told reporters Thursday that he's boycotting the US ambassador's annual Independence Day party over the Trump administration's recent anti-Canadian sentiments.

The US and Canada are also in talks to update the North American Free Trade Agreement, which includes Mexico. This is unacceptable. In particular, in the case of energy tubular, steel plates and rebar products, we will work with stakeholders in the coming weeks on an appropriate response, including safeguards.

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Freeland said there was no reason for the Trump administration to escalate the trade dispute and Canada would not back down in the face of American violations of WTO and NAFTA trade rules.

She said she expects "common sense will prevail".

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.

Freeland has repeatedly warned that the imposition of both steel, aluminum and auto tariffs would hurt American workers just as much as those in Canada.

Senior officials from Canada are lobbying the Big Three U.S. auto makers to stave off the punitive measures and say they are considering all options, including providing financial aid.

In a separate filing, Toyota Motor Corp said imposing tariffs on the auto industry imports would "threaten U.S. manufacturing, jobs, exports, and economic prosperity".

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"We will not escalate and we will not back down", Freeland told reporters in announcing the tariffs.

Trump's tariffs will be damaging to workers on both sides of the border. "Candidly, the Canadian retaliation is a drop in the bucket compared to the retaliation that we're going to see from China and elsewhere".

Canada had initially been exempted from the tariffs, which were first announced in March, because of the ongoing renegotiation of NAFTA.

In a blow to Trump earlier this week, iconic American motorcycle company Harley-Davidson announced it would move some production overseas to avoid European Union tariffs imposed in response to United States steel and aluminum duties.

On the campaign trail this week, Mr Trump continued his attacks on Canadian dairy, wheat and duty-free customs allowances for Canadians returning home, saying they were scuffing up brand new shoes in order to sneak them in. The auto tariffs would disrupt that.

Canada has been pursuing trade deals with other nations, and is staying well connected with political and business networks in the U.S. Paul Moen, an global trade lawyer at Earnscliffe Strategy Group in Ottawa, says the Canadian government has also promised to step in to help industries like dairy and steel.

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