Canada has announced that it will impose dollar-for-dollar retaliatory tariffs on up to $16.6 billion of American imports.
The move is in response to the United States' decision to slap similar tariffs against Canadian aluminum (25 per cent) and steel (10 per cent). Wilbur Ross, the U.S. Commerce Secretary, confirmed on Thursday that the United States would end the temporary exemption on Canada, Mexico and Europe as of June 1. He says that the decision was made as a result of the lack of progress in the talks to update the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Without any hesitation, Canada decided to pay the U.S. the same respects. Several U.S. products, ranging anywhere from large commodities like flat-rolled steel, beer, and whiskey to toilet paper, playing cards and felt-tipped pens, will now be subject to tariffs as of July 1, says Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.
"This is $16.6 billion of retaliation," Freeland said in a news conference on Thursday. "This is the strongest trade action Canada has taken in the post-war era. This is a very strong response, it is a proportionate response, it is perfectly reciprocal. This is a very strong Canadian action in response to a very bad U.S. decision."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was with Freeland when the announcement was made and he expressed his disbelief at the U.S. decision. He especially addressed his concern with the fact that Trump was using a national security clause in U.S. trade law to justify the decision.
"That Canada could be considered a national security threat to the United States is inconceivable . . . We will continue to make arguments based on logic and common sense and hope that they eventually will prevail against an administration that doesn't always align itself around those principles."
Despite the similar retaliatory actions of other countries, the U.S. is standing by its decision and currently shows no signs of re-evaluating its options.
"The Trump Administration's actions underscore its commitment to good-faith negotiations with our allies to enhance our national security while supporting American workers," the White House stated.
The U.S. is still, however, open towards renegotiating NAFTA. Ross believes that just because there are retaliations "does not mean that there cannot be continuing negotiations."
Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron will meet in Ottawa next week before the G7 summit to discuss the recent changes.