Trudeau calls U.S. viewing Canada as national security threat 'simply ridiculous'

Charlene Craig
June 1, 2018

Washington angered its major allies by slapping duties of 25% and 10% on imports of aluminium and steel.

President Trump is imposing steep tariffs on steel and aluminum from three of America's biggest trading partners - Canada, Mexico and the European Union.

Huge tariffs on imported steel and aluminium from Europe, Canada and Mexico have come into effect in the United States.

"If President Trump decides to treat Europe as an enemy, we will have no choice but to defend European industry, European jobs, European interests", he said.

Donald Trump announced worldwide plans for the tariffs - 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium - in March, but gave Canada, Mexico and the European Union limited exemptions to pursue trade negotiations.

"Trump had delayed the tariffs on Mexico and Canada pending results from the negotiations, and threatening to impose them to pressure more", said Jeffrey A. Weldon, director of the political science program at the Mexico Autonomous Institute of Technology. Permanent exemption for Canad and Mexico, meanwhile, was said to hinge on a resolution to a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has yet to materialize.

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Europe, along with Canada and Mexico, had been granted a temporary reprieve from the USA tariffs after they were unveiled in March by Trump, who said the levies were needed to stem the flood of cheap steel and aluminum into the US and that to impose them was a national security priority.

"The American administration has made a decision today that we deplore, and obviously is going to lead to retaliatory measures, as it must", Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a news conference with Freeland.

The United States is also exploring the possibility of putting new tariffs on cars. He justified the tariffs by arguing that United States producers are vital to national security and were threatened by a global supply glut.

The measures, which target pork legs, apples, grapes and cheese as well as steel and other products, will be in place until the United States government eliminates its tariffs, Mexico's Economy Ministry said.

Reverse tariffs could be slapped on items like Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, said the bloc would move ahead with tariffs that are expected to affect roughly $7.5 billion worth of United States exports.

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A second batch of American exports worth around €3.7 billion ($4.3 billion) a year could eventually be targeted.

Now, both of those men have left the White House, and Trump has gravitated instead toward seeking the counsel of trade hardliners like Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, senior adviser Peter Navarro, and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

The tariffs represented the latest tactic in Mr Trump's "America First" agenda, which has unnerved traders and investors and raised the spectre of a trade war involving the U.S. and China - the world's two largest economies - as well as other key nations.

He added: "We believe general consensus in the market was cooler heads would prevail and the European Union and (North American Free Trade Agreement) trading partners would either be provided permanent exemptions and/or be subject to tariff-rate quotas".

Qualtrough, however, says it is "difficult to fathom" how Canadian steel could pose a security threat, given the close security relationship between the two countries and extent of integration between their respective defence sectors.

Australia has once again sidestepped US President Donald Trump's haphazard use of hefty steel and aluminium tariffs against his allies, as a trade war looms.

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