Netizen 24 CAN: US will slap Canada with steel and aluminum tariffs starting at midnight

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US will slap Canada with steel and aluminum tariffs starting at midnight

UpdatedU.S. will slap Canada with steel and aluminum tariffs starting at midnightThe U.S. is slapping Canada with tariffs on its steel and aluminum imports effective at midnight tonight. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross made the announcement during a call with reporters Thursday morning.

Tariffs amounting to 25% on imported steel and 10% on aluminum announced by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross

In this April 27, 2018 photo a steel worker watches the hot metal at the Thyssenkrupp steel factory in Duisburg, Germany.The U.S. will slap tariffs on Canadian, Mexican and European Union steel and aluminum as of midnight June 1. (The Associated Press)

The U.S. is slapping Canada with tariffs on its steel and aluminum imports beginning at midnight.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross made the announcement during a call with reporters Thursday morning.

President Donald Trump announced in March that the United States would impose tariffs of 25 per cent on imported steel and 10 per cent on imported aluminum, citing national security interests.

He granted exemptions to his North American Free Trade Agreement allies and the European Union, but those all were set to expire June 1.

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Ross said Canada's and Mexico's exemptions were linked to the progress of the NAFTA negotiations, which "are taking longer than we had hoped."

But he did allow some leeway, saying the U.S. could be flexible.

"We continue to be quit e willing and indeed eager to have further discussions," Ross said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was scheduled to address the incoming tariffs around 1:30 p.m. ET.

When it comes to potential retaliation, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has said Canada will defend its industries and jobs.

Mexico, EU to retaliate

Mexico swiftly responded with tariffs of its own on pork bellies, grapes, apples and flat steel, The Associated Press reported.

The EU also announced it would trigger a dispute settlement case at the WTO and impose"rebalancing measures."

"Today is a bad day for world trade. We did everything to avoid this outcome," said EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström.

"The U.S. has sought to use the threat of trade restrictions as leverage to obtain concessions from the EU. This is not the way we do business."

Canada's procurement minister cast doubt on the U.S.'s national s ecurity justification.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Canada's and Mexico's steel exemptions were linked to the progress of the NAFTA negotiations, which 'are taking longer than we had hoped.' (Vincent Yu/Associated Press)

"It is very difficult to fathom that there would be a security risk imposed by Canada on the United States," said Public Services and Procurement Minister Carla Qualtrough while attending Cansec, Canada's largest annual arms show, in Ottawa.

She said the federal government has "contingency plans" in place to absorb the impact of potential U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum on defence projects.

Multi-billion dollar programs to buy new fighter jets and warships are all heavily dependent on the price of steel.

"We prepare for this kind of thing," sa id the Delta MP. "There is money set aside, whether it be for tariffs or for interest rate fluctuations, so we can proceed with our defence procurement should there be additional costs associated because of tariffs or other unexpected circumstances."

Last ditch efforts

Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced late Wednesday that the government would bolster its measures to prevent foreign steel and aluminum from being dumped into the North American market, but it appears to have done little to prevent the U.S.'s punitive duties

Trudeau called Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, all in regions with large steel and aluminum sectors, on Wednesday to talk about the upcoming decision.

Rolls of coiled steel at Canadian steel producer Dofasco in Hami lton on March 13. Ottawa is implementing more anti-dumping measures to prevent foreign steel and aluminum from being dumped into the North American market. (Tara Walton/The Canadian Press)

The Prime Minister's Office said they "all agreed to continue to defend the Canadian steel and aluminum industry from unwarranted tariffs and to stand up for the best interests of all Canadian workers and businesses."

Canada's attempt to thwart the tariffs came in symphony with its European allies, who were also trying to stop the U.S.

Both Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron made their cases separately to the U.S administration, while other European officials met with their U.S. counterparts in Paris on Thursday.

With files from The Associated Press, The Canadian Press and the CBC's Murray Brewster

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