President Trump last month slapped punishing new tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum. On Sunday, Ottawa answered back with tariffs of its own.
Canada retaliated with some $12.5 billion in new duties on a variety of U.S. goods, including steel and aluminum, as well as whisky, maple syrup, orange juice, ketchup and lawn mowers.
“We will not escalate, and we will not back down,” Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said last week, announcing that the tit-for-tat duties were going ahead.
On June 1, the United States levied tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum on Canada and the European Union, two of its largest trading partners. Canada’s retaliatory tariffs come in a week when U.S. trade partners are lining up to hit back at Washington for its duties on their goods.
Politico reported last week that Mexico was due to slap $3 billion dollars worth of tariffs on U.S. goods Thursday. China, meanwhile, is planning to roll out billions of dollars in retaliatory tariffs on Friday.
The Canadian tariffs come after weeks of verbal fisticuffs between longtime allies Canada and the United States.
The two nations recently clashed at the G7 meetings over top economic powers. The rift deepened and the rhetoric became more heated after White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said there was a “special place in hell” for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whom he accused of “bad faith” during the trade talks.
Trudeau on Friday spoke with Trump by phone, explaining he had no choice but to impose the duties.
This latest salvo in the international trade wars comes with the United States already on the outs with its global trading partners and political allies. In his year-and-a-half long tenure, Trump has threatened to unravel the once rock-solid NATO military alliance, has said he may shred the NAFTA agreement with Mexico and Canada, and has abandoned the Paris Climate Agreement.
He also has bolted from plans to set up a Trans Pacific Partnership and reneged on U.S. support for the internationally-backed Iranian nuclear deal among other things.
This week, a news report by Axios cites sources as saying that the president also wants to withdraw from the World Trade Organization (WTO), which would only cede America’s place as a leader international commerce and trade.
Trump fancies himself the consummate businessman, but critics have said his maneuvers on the world stage — including the rash imposition of tariffs — so far have imperiled America’s role as the leader of global free market economic order.
The New York Times reported Friday that behemoth automaker General Motors days it could be forced to lay off workers as a result of the tariffs. Last week, Harley Davidson said it was offshoring jobs as well, to avoid the impact of retaliatory EU tariffs.
Speaking to CNN on Saturday, however, Navarro, who serves as director of the White House National Trade Council, specifically criticized GM’s complaints, calling them “a lot of smoke and mirrors.
“What we’re seeing is the Trump tariffs are working,” he told host CNN host Michael Smerconish.
He added, “Free, fair, balanced, reciprocal trade is all we want. When we encounter anything other than that, the president responds with strong trade policies which are designed to stimulate investment here, to put the facilities here that make things so that men and women in this country can have good jobs and good wages.”