Published: Sat, June 02, 2018
Markets | By Otis Pena

Trump hits back at Trudeau's criticism of 'punitive' US metal tariffs

Trump hits back at Trudeau's criticism of 'punitive' US metal tariffs

Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron made their cases separately Wednesday to dissuade Trump, who is using a national-security clause in USA trade law to justify the move.

"This measure will be in force for as long as the U.S. government maintains the imposed tariffs", the ministry said.

Trudeau lashed out at Trump's protectionism and vowed to protect Canadian jobs.

In 2011, Mexico successfully used a similar list of mostly agricultural products to push Washington into letting Mexican truckers on USA highways.

Trudeau told the anecdote Thursday during a media briefing where he and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland were outlining the Canadian response to punishing US tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. This is not about the American people. "We have to believe that at some point, their common sense will prevail but we see no sign of that in this action today".

It's a tone change for the "sunny ways" Trudeau.

Canada is a secure supplier of aluminum and steel to the US defence industry, putting aluminum in American planes and steel in American tanks.

The countermeasures will hit US hot and cold rolled steel, plated steel and tubes, the ministry said.

Canada is imposing dollar-for-dollar tariff "countermeasures" on up to $16.6 billion worth of US imports in response to the American decision to make good on its threat of similar tariffs against Canadian-made steel and aluminum. None of it mattered.

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Trudeau said that in NAFTA talks, Canada, the United States and Mexico had come so close to a deal he had offered to meet Trump in Washington. He said during a Bloomberg interview in Toronto that killing NAFTA - the existing 1994 deal, as Trump threatens - is better for Canada than swallowing a bad deal to update it.

Trudeau said Thursday he invited Trump to a meeting on NAFTA last week, but was contacted by US Vice President Mike Pence who said the summit was contingent on his agreeing to limit the deal to five years, a condition Trudeau rejected as totally unacceptable. Trudeau refused and the meeting never happened.

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.

On NAFTA, Trump said: "Earlier today, this message was conveyed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada: The United State (sic) will agree to a fair deal, or there will be no deal at all". "Those days are over".

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the Trump administration's argument that the tariffs were necessary for national security reasons was an "affront" to Canada, which has fought alongside the numerous armed conflicts.

"This is the strongest trade action Canada has taken in the post-war era", Freeland said.

"The current approach will deliver the greatest economic pain to precisely those areas of the country that the administration and the Congressional majority are counting on for continued political support", he said. It would also signal no one is safe: Mexico and Canada are the top two buyers of US exports.

Trudeau, a regular advocate of free trade and multi-lateralism, placed the blame squarely at Trump's feet.

Business leaders in Canada and the US predicted dire economic consequences as result of the decision, which was derided on both sides of the Atlantic.

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