Trump speaks of new trade deal as Canada hits back at US tariffs on steel, aluminium
04 June 2018
A day after Canada announced Can$16.6 billion ($12.8 billion) in duties on US goods, hitting back at US tariffs on steel and aluminium, US President Donald Trump said he might prefer to end the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and opt for separate pacts with Canada and Mexico.
“I wouldn’t mind seeing NAFTA where you go by a different name, where you make a separate deal with Canada and a separate deal with Mexico. Because you’re talking about a very different two countries,” Trump told reporters.
Trump’s announcement comes after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday hit back at US tariffs on steel and aluminium with Can$16.6 billion ($12.8 billion) in duties on US goods, and accused American President Donald Trump of lacking "common sense."
Canadians, industry and even opposition parties applauded the prime minister's unusually pointed rebuke of Trump and retaliatory tariffs.
"Trudeau uttered some of the harshest words a prime minister has directed at an American administration in decades," said Toronto Star columnist Chantal Hebert, calling this a "watershed moment in the Donald Trump-era Canada/US relationship."
"It is not every day that a Canadian head of government pointedly notes that he is dealing with a US administration that is short on common sense" or "that a prime minister uses a news conference to dig in his heels in a trade negotiation," she noted.
Canada and the United States have been at odds over softwood lumber and aircrafts even as they spoke of negotiations, along with Mexico, a revamp of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Washington had granted Canada and Mexico an exemption on the metals tariffs to give the parties time to successfully renegotiate the 1994 continental trade pact.
But those talks are now bogged down. And, on Thursday, the US announced tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminium from Canada and others, from Friday.
Canada responded with duties of 25 per cent on US steel and aluminium, and 10 per cent on consumer goods such as ketchup, orange juice, sailboats and washing machines, which will take effect 1 July.
"The government of Canada is confident that shared values, geography and common interests will ultimately overcome protectionism," Trudeau told a news conference on Thursday.
"We have to believe that at some point common sense will prevail, but we see no sign of that in this action today by the US administration."
He said Ottawa would try to convince Washington to repeal the tariffs, but the Trump administration has so far stood firm.