President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he had reimposed 10% tariffs on some Canadian aluminum products, accusing Canada of “taking advantage” of the US.
He made the remarks during a visit to a washing machine factory operated by Whirlpool Corp in Ohio, a critical state in his re-election battle.
“I signed a proclamation that defends American industry by reimposing aluminum tariffs on Canada,” Trump told a small audience that was gathered at the factory.
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He said he had done so to protect US industry from a “surge” in imports from Canada, which “threatens to harm domestic aluminum production.”
Trump had originally imposed the tariffs on aluminum imports in 2018, at the height of his administration’s policy on global tariffs.
He then lifted them last year as a precursor to the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The reimposed tariffs are now set to go into effect on August 16 and would apply to raw, un-alloyed aluminum produced at smelters, but not to downstream aluminum products.
“Several months ago, my administration agreed to lift those tariffs in return for a promise from the Canadian government that its aluminum industry would not flood our country with exports and kill all our aluminum jobs, which is exactly what they’ve done,” Trump said.
“Canadian aluminum producers have broken their commitment,” he added.
According to the Aluminum Association trade group, imports of the raw material from Canada rose sharply from February to March, but have since leveled off and even dropped 2.6% from May to June.
”Claims of a ‘surge’ of primary aluminum imports from Canada are simply not accurate,” said Tom Dobbins, the association’s president.
Canada to retaliate with tariffs
The US Chamber of Commerce criticized the president’s decision, saying it was “a step in the wrong direction.”
“These tariffs will raise costs for American manufacturers, are opposed by most US aluminum producers, and will draw retaliation against US exports,” said Myron Brilliant, head of international affairs for the Chamber of Commerce.
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Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland responded to the US move by warning that the tariffs would hurt workers and regional economies already hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
“In response to the American tariffs, Canada intends to swiftly impose dollar-for-dollar countermeasures,” Freeland said in a statement.
jcg/dj (AFP, AP, Reuters)