Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland attends a news conference as efforts continue to help slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada March 23, 2020.
Blair Gable | Reuters
Canada said Friday it will slap retaliatory tariffs on $2.7 billion worth of U.S. goods, the latest development in a new trade feud sparked by President Donald Trump‘s decision to reimpose aluminum duties on the U.S. ally.
“Canada will respond swiftly and strongly,” Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said at a news conference.
“We will impose dollar-for-dollar countermeasures in a balanced and perfectly reciprocal retaliation,” she said. “We will not escalate and we will not back down.”
Freeland said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will spend the next 30 days consulting with Canadian citizens and businesses on a broad list of aluminum-containing products. Canada’s new duties on U.S. imports, she said, will total 3.6 billion Canadian dollars ($2.7 billion).
Trump, during a speech Thursday at a Whirlpool manufacturing plant in Ohio, announced that he had signed a proclamation reimposing 10% tariffs on aluminum imports from Canada that had been lifted more than a year earlier. The president complained that Canada was putting American workers in the aluminum industry at a disadvantage.
“The aluminum business was being decimated by Canada,” he said.
Trudeau vowed to enact countermeasures against the U.S. just hours after Trump’s announcement.
Neither the White House nor the Commerce Department immediately responded to CNBC’s requests for comment on Canada’s actions.
The text of Trump’s proclamation says that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross informed Trump that Canadian aluminum imports “increased substantially” in the months after the decision to lift the tariffs in mid-2019.
That so-called surge “threatens to harm domestic aluminum production and capacity utilization,” the proclamation said.
Freeland on Friday lambasted that assertion, arguing that the tariffs will hurt American consumers already suffering from the economic devastation inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic.
“In imposing these tariffs, 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,” Freeland said.
“These tariffs are unnecessary, unwarranted and entirely unacceptable,” she added. “They should not be imposed. Let me be clear: Canadian aluminum is in no way a threat to U.S. national security, which remains the ostensible reason for these tariffs, and that is a ludicrous notion.”
Freeland also noted that the new tariffs come just over a month after the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement – the Trump-backed trade pact that replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA – went into effect.
“Now is the time to advance North American economic competitiveness, not to hinder it,” she said.