Canada announces final list of retaliatory tariffs

Chrystia Freeland

"We're not going for the escalation, but will not retreat", said Freeland.

Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump spoke late Friday.

Canada's retaliatory tariffs, effective on July 1, largely target United States steel and aluminium products, along with foodstuffs such as coffee, ketchup and whisky, according to a list released by Canada's Finance Department.

"We look forward to working closely with the government to implement further supports for workers as needed", said Yussuff.

Trump initially exempted key suppliers and allies like Canada from the 25 per cent duties on steel imports and 10 per cent on aluminum.

The aid package - more than twice the value of last year's plan to help the softwood lumber industry - was announced at the same time the government confirmed plans to impose $16.6-billion in "dollar-for-dollar" countermeasures on USA goods.

"We're ready, really, for pretty much anything", Freeland concluded, suggesting plans are drawn up in the event that the USA imposes more tariffs.

Ms Freeland said the discussions continue and will heat up again after the Mexican election on Sunday. She also filed a separate complaint under the North American Free Trade Agreement, arguing the the USA tariffs are "completely unacceptable" and "illegal".

Canada and the U.S. are among the world's two largest trading partners with an estimated US$673.9 billion (S$918.46 billion) worth of goods and services exchanged in 2017, with the United States scoring a small surplus (US$8.4 billion), according to the USA government data. Today's announcement is a good first step to counter the impact of unreasonable US trade demands on workers in Canada. That might change with the prospect of auto tariffs, though she stated that she hopes common sense would prevail. "A lot of people appreciate that", she said in an interview Friday.

"I think that prediction has been borne out and I think all of us anticipate there will be some moments of drama in the future".

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Canada and Mexico were initially exempted from the USA steel and aluminum tariffs but Trump ended this in July amid stalled talks to revamp a 1994 trilateral trade deal. The situation means it's now a top priority for stalled NAFTA talks to get moving as soon as possible, he said.

The U.S. embassy in Ottawa said it had no immediate comment.

"Frankly, had we done nothing, I think Canada would really have lost out at the end of the day".

"What we've seen over the last six months or so is Canada take measures to stop that", he said. Canada is a small economy and relies on its trade with the U.S. But businesses could start relocating to the U.S. if the standoff becomes protracted.

After the European Union unveiled similar retaliatory tariffs, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer earlier this week lashed out calling them groundless and illegal.

Trump has threatened to impose significant new tariffs on auto parts and cars if Canada implements the retaliatory tariffs.

The United Steelworkers said the government should be ready for a more ambitious financial package, including more direct help for affected workers if the dispute lasts longer.

"These retaliatory tariffs underscore the complete hypocrisy that governs so much of the global trading system", he said in a statement, and "do great damage to the multilateral trading system".

The Trudeau government's decision to stand up to Trump with countermeasures has attracted wide support in Canada.

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