Canada to reveal retaliatory measures to U.S. aluminum tariffs
OTTAWA -- Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will be unveiling Canada’s retaliatory measures in response to the United States’ tariffs on Canadian aluminum on Tuesday, CTV News has learned.
U.S. President Donald Trump imposed a 10-per-cent tariff on raw aluminum from Canada on Aug. 16 despite condemnation from aluminum organizations on both sides of the border.
As soon as Trump said the new tariffs were coming, Canadian officials said they planned to hit back with $3.6 billion in retaliatory countermeasures once the industry was consulted on a broad list of potential products to slap tariffs on.
Speaking about the planned retaliation ahead of Monday’s cabinet meeting, Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said that Canada’s approach will be the same as the last time the government hit back against Trump trade action.
Freeland has previously indicated the approach will be how to “inflict the minimal amount of damage on Canada, and to have frankly the strongest possible impact in the United States.”
Among the list of potential U.S. aluminum products Canada has its sights on:
- Aluminum beverage cans;
- Household items such as tinfoil, pots and scouring pads;
- Construction material such as nails, tacks, staples and screws;
- Appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines; and
- Recreational items like bicycles, golf clubs, playground equipment and tripods.
The consultation period ended on Sept. 6, a month to the day after Trump first revealed his latest trade action plans, and on Tuesday multiple sources say that Freeland will provide the final roster of U.S. aluminum goods being targeted.
The U.S. tariffs on unprocessed aluminum imports from Canada were levelled under Section 232 of the U.S. Trade Expansion Act, which states the imports pose a threat to American national security.
In unveiling the tariffs, Trump accused Canada of “taking advantage” of the United States. He claimed that the American aluminum business has been “decimated” by Canada, calling it “very unfair” and accusing Canadian producers of flooding the U.S. with exports.
He also said that the new tariffs are “absolutely necessary,” and pledged he will “always put American workers first” and use all tools at his disposal—including tariffs—to do that.
In response, Freeland called the Trump administration “the most protectionist administration in U.S. history.”
Freeland called Trump’s tariffs “unnecessary, unwarranted and entirely unacceptable,” and said they are the “last thing anyone needs” right now given the current state of the economy amid COVID-19.
Using this trade law as justification for the tariffs has also been roundly criticized by experts, who have said the move is just as wrong as it was when it was tried by Trump in 2018.
Trump hit Canada with steel and aluminum tariffs in May 2018, during negotiations for the new NAFTA deal. The tariffs remained in place for a year, during which time Canada reciprocated with dollar-for-dollar countermeasures on American steel, aluminum, as well as levelling a surtax on other goods, including coffee, prepared meals, pizza, chocolate, condiments, toiletries, beer kegs, whiskeys, various household items, and motorboats.
A year later, Canada and the U.S. issued a joint statement announcing a decision to lift the tariffs, confirming that the two nations also agreed to terminate World Trade Organization litigation Canada launched after slamming the U.S. tariffs as "punitive" and "an affront" to Canada-U.S. relations.
The new NAFTA came into effect on July 1, meaning this latest American trade action came just over a month into the new deal.
With files from CTV News’ Michel Boyer, Interactive by Mahima Singh