Trade high on Trudeau’s agenda as he gath­ers with Amer­i­can gov­er­nors

The Western Star - - Canada - BY MIA RAB­SON

Trade high on Trudeau’s agenda as he gath­ers with Amer­i­can gov­er­nors

U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is promis­ing to tax steel im­ports again less than a week af­ter Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau said he be­lieved Canada will es­cape ex­pected steel tar­iffs im­posed by the U.S.

Speak­ing to re­porters as he flew to France for a bi­lat­eral meet­ing, Trump said there are two ways to ad­dress what he calls un­ac­cept­able dump­ing of for­eign steel into the U.S. mar­ket - quo­tas and tar­iffs.

“Maybe I’ll do both,” he said ac­cord­ing to a tran­script of the con­ver­sa­tion re­leased by the White House Thurs­day.

“Steel is a big prob­lem. Steel is, I mean, they’re dump­ing steel. Not only China, but oth­ers. We’re like a dump­ing ground, okay? They’re dump­ing steel and de­stroy­ing our steel in­dus­try, they’ve been do­ing it for decades, and I’m stop­ping it. It’ll stop.”

The com­ments came im­me­di­ately af­ter Trump spoke about the trade deficit the U.S. has with South Korea, which is the third-largest source of steel im­ports to the U.S.

But Canada is the big­gest, ac­count­ing for 17 per cent of all steel im­ported into the United States last year.

Steel was one of the sub­jects dis­cussed by Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau with Trump on the side­lines of the G20 lead­ers’ sum­mit in Ger­many last week­end. Trudeau told re­porters

af­ter he was “com­fort­able” Canada would not be af­fected by any na­tional se­cu­rity-re­lated im­port tar­iffs on steel.

“The kind of back and forth com­pli­men­ta­r­ity be­tween Canada and the U.S. on steel is some­thing we both value tremen­dously as coun­tries and will en­sure to pro­tect,” Trudeau said July 8.

The U.S. Depart­ment of

Com­merce is weeks over­due to de­cide whether to slap new im­port du­ties on steel on the ba­sis of na­tional se­cu­rity. Com­merce Sec­re­tary Wil­bur Ross was to have made the de­ci­sion in June but as of this week, noth­ing had been fi­nal­ized.

He was brief­ing con­gres­sional rep­re­sen­ta­tives on the is­sue in Washington Thurs­day.

Steel was also on the agenda Fri­day when Trudeau had a bi­lat­eral meet­ing with U.S. Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence dur­ing the an­nual meet­ing of the Na­tional Gover­nor’s As­so­ci­a­tion in Rhode Is­land. Soft­wood lum­ber and NAFTA were also set to be dis­cussed.

Ne­go­ti­a­tions on the trade deal will be­gin mid-Au­gust, while Canada and the U.S. are cur­rently ne­go­ti­at­ing on new trade deal on soft­wood lum­ber.

For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land is also at the meet­ing. Her spokesman said Canada’s feel­ings on steel re­main the same as they were fol­low­ing the G20.

“Our North Amer­i­can steel and alu­minum in­dus­tries sup­port good mid­dle class jobs, are highly in­te­grated, and our trade is highly bal­anced,” said Adam Austen. “As key al­lies and part­ners in No­rad and NATO, Canada and the U.S. are in­te­gral to each other’s na­tional se­cu­rity and Canada is a safe and se­cure sup­plier of steel and alu­minum to the U.S.”

Amanda DeBusk, chair of the in­ter­na­tional trade depart­ment at the D.C. law firm Hughes Hub­bard and Reed, said while the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s in­ter­na­tional trade poli­cies may be less pre­dictable than his pre­de­ces­sors, there is rea­son for Canada to be op­ti­mistic.

“If you look at the his­tory of trade re­la­tions in the past the U.S. has given Canada and Mex­ico a pass on the types of trade re­stric­tions that are be­ing talked about in re­gards to steel,” she said.

The U.S. steel in­dus­try fight with China and other coun­tries pre­dates Trump. At the end of 2016, be­fore Trump was in­au­gu­rated, the U.S. al­ready had 113 dif­fer­ent trade reme­dies in place on steel im­ports in­clud­ing 20 against China alone. None of them were against Canada.


Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, right, meets with Rhode Is­land Gover­nor Gina Rai­mondo at the Na­tional Gover­nor’s As­so­ci­a­tion (NGA) Spe­cial Ses­sion - Col­lab­o­rat­ing to Cre­ate To­mor­row’s Global Econ­omy in Prov­i­dence, R.I., Fri­day.

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