Canada has ev­ery right to be in­sulted over US tar­iffs

The Myanmar Times - - News / Perspective -

“THERE’S a spe­cial place in hell” for lead­ers such as Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, White House trade ad­viser Peter Navarro said on “Fox News Sun­day.”

This, as Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump was about to sit down with the head of a to­tal­i­tar­ian North Korean regime re­spon­si­ble for crimes against hu­man­ity with­out par­al­lel in the con­tem­po­rary world, as a UN com­mis­sion re­ported four years ago.

What could ac­count for such White House sav­agery against a his­toric US ally? Trudeau had en­gaged in “bad-faith diplo­macy,” Navarro main­tained. “He re­ally kind of stabbed us in the back,” Larry Kud­low, head of the Na­tional Eco­nomic Coun­cil, agreed on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sun­day.

How so? Trudeau said at a news con­fer­ence at the end of a tense Group of Seven sum­mit that US tar­iffs on Cana­dian steel and alu­minium were “kind of in­sult­ing,” be­cause Trump cited na­tional se­cu­rity to erect them. This is noth­ing all that dif­fer­ent from what Trudeau had said be­fore. It is also a mild re­ac­tion rel­a­tive to the sheer ir­ra­tional­ity of the pres­i­dent’s in­creas­ingly un­moored trade pol­icy.

In fact, Canada has ev­ery right to be in­sulted that Trump would in­voke na­tional se­cu­rity in their trade dis­pute. Canada has stood with the United States in ev­ery modern war and crisis. There is no doubt that the United States could rely on Cana­dian steel and alu­minium if an­other crisis de­vel­oped, ob­vi­at­ing the stated ra­tio­nale for im­pos­ing the tar­iffs. Same goes for auto im­ports from Canada, an­other prod­uct on which Trump is threat­en­ing tar­iffs. In fact, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s con­cerns about Cana­dian trade cen­tre on rel­a­tively in­signif­i­cant con­cerns, such as the treat­ment of US dairy prod­ucts. The United States is not fac­ing a dan­ger­ous dairy emer­gency, and it never will. Wildly ex­ag­ger­ated eco­nomic griev­ances, not na­tional se­cu­rity, are driv­ing Trump’s trade agenda.

Even on those terms, Trump’s trade of­fen­sive is an in­sult. The United States main­tains a largely free and fair trading re­la­tion­ship with Canada. On Trump’s favourite mea­sure, the trade bal­ance, the United States main­tains a small sur­plus with Canada, with each side sell­ing about US$335 bil­lion (K454.5 tril­lion) worth of goods and ser­vices to the other in 2017. Though Canada’s pro­tec­tion­ist dairy poli­cies are in­de­fen­si­ble, dairy rep­re­sents only a sliver, at 0.2 per­cent of US ex­ports to Canada, which is why past pres­i­dents would never have con­sid­ered blow­ing up the re­la­tion­ship over com­plaints about milk prices. Peo­ple and busi­nesses are stitched tightly to one an­other across the United States’ north­ern bor­der, and a dis­rup­tion in the re­la­tion­ship could be dev­as­tat­ing for those who rely on the free cross­ing of goods and peo­ple.

Kud­low sug­gested that Trump might have been de­ploy­ing ex­tra bravado to demon­strate strength be­fore his meet­ing with North Korean dic­ta­tor Kim Jong Un. In fact, he was demon­strat­ing moral and strate­gic ob­tuse­ness. To alien­ate al­lies while fawn­ing over dic­ta­tors is not a sign of strength. – The Washington Post

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