Canada to impose retaliatory tariffs on C$3.6 billion worth of U.S. goods

FILE PHOTO: Canada's Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland attends a news conference as efforts continue to help slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada March 23, 2020. REUTERS/Blair Gable/File Photo

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada will slap retaliatory tariffs on C$3.6 billion ($2.7 billion) worth of U.S. aluminum products after the United States said it would impose punitive measures on Canadian aluminum imports, a senior official said on Friday.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland told a news conference the countermeasures would be put in place by Sept. 16 to allow consultations with industry.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday moved to reimpose 10% tariffs on some Canadian aluminum products to protect U.S. industry from a “surge” in imports. Canada denies any impropriety.

“A trade dispute is the last thing anyone needs – it will only hurt an economic recovery on both sides of the border. However, this is what the U.S. administration has chosen to do,” said Freeland.

“We do not escalate and we do not back down,” she said later, describing the U.S. decision as unjust and absurd.

The Canadian list of goods that might be subject to tariffs include aluminum bars, plates, household articles, refrigerators, bicycles and washing machines.

It is the second time in two years that Canada has struck back at Trump over trade. In 2018, Ottawa slapped tariffs on C$16.6 billion ($12.5 billion) worth of American goods ranging from bourbon to ketchup after Washington imposed sanctions on Canadian aluminum and steel.

Canadian officials may be calculating that the measures will be short-lived. An Ottawa source briefed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office said Canadian officials are increasingly sure that Trump will lose the Nov. 3 presidential election to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Trump acted just weeks after a new continental trade pact between the United States, Canada and Mexico took effect. The North American economy is highly integrated and Canada sends 75% of all its goods exports to the United States.

The premier of Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, said earlier on Friday that he had encouraged Freeland to impose tariffs on as many U.S. goods as possible.

“For the President to come and attack us during these times, during a pandemic when we need everyone’s support, is totally unacceptable,” Doug Ford told a news conference.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Chris Reese and Dan Grebler)

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