Saying previously that “the last thing Canadians and Americans need in the middle of this pandemic is another trade war,” and after threatening to impose dollar-for-dollar retaliation on specific U.S. imports, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland revealed yesterday that United States said its will drop its 10% tariffs on $3.6 billion worth of imported Canadian aluminum products. The move happened just two hours before Canada was set to unveil its list of retaliatory, dollar-for-dollar penalties against American imports to Canada. But, not surprisingly, there were still mixed messages coming from Washington. The imposition of tariffs of any kind on Canadian aluminum would be bad news for printing plate manufacturers, OEMs and commercial printers both here and south of the border.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer walked back tariffs the Trump administration had imposed on raw Canadian aluminum in August, saying he expects that surging Canadian imports are likely to level out in the second half of this year and into the first part of next year. However, he warned that the U.S. would retroactively re-impose another 10% tariff if Canadian imports exceeded monthly levels that the U.S. trade office had set out, or if it detected a future imbalance in aluminum trade between the two countries in 2021.
Freeland and Export Promotion and International Trade Minister Mary Ng then told reporters “there was no deal” and that Canada won’t accept any American quotas. “Canada has not conceded anything,” Ng emphasized. Freeland added that the American withdrawal of tariffs was a “unilateral” move and Canada would not hesitate to retaliate in the future. “This is not a negotiated deal between Canada and the United States,” she pointed out. “We have not negotiated an agreement with the U.S. on quotas.” The governors of New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont wrote to Trump last week in hopes of convincing him to stop what they called “unnecessary and inappropriate” measures that will have negative consequences for consumers and suppliers in the U.S. “New England and Canada build things together,” they wrote. “The rising costs will add to the challenges already facing most business sectors during these challenging times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
A new opinion survey suggests that Trump’s recent decision to slap a tariff on Canadian raw aluminum is unpopular on both sides of the border. In a web survey conducted by polling firm Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies, 58% of American respondents said they disagreed with the 10% import tax, while a huge 90% of Canadians who took part in the survey said it was a terrible idea. The survey was conducted August 7 – 9 among 1,513 Canadians and 1,003 Americans 18 or older, who were recruited from an online panel.