- The Washington Times - Friday, August 7, 2020

Canada will slap retaliatory tariffs on $2.7 billion in American goods after President Trump reimposed levies on aluminum from the north, a top official said Friday, blasting the U.S. decision as “ludicrous” and ill-timed.

“These tariffs are unnecessary, unwarranted and entirely unacceptable. They should not be imposed,” Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland. “Let me be clear, Canadian aluminum is in no way a threat to U.S. national security, which remains the ostensible reason for these tariffs. And that is a ludicrous notion. On the contrary, Canadian aluminum is essential for U.S. industry.”

Ms. Freeland said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is consulting with business leaders on a “long and detailed list” of products that contain aluminum, so it can impose dollar-for-dollar reprisals within 30 days.

Mr. Trump used a Thursday stop in Ohio to announce he is reimposing a 10% tariff on Canadian aluminum, saying Canada broke a commitment not to “flood our country with exports and kill all our aluminum jobs.”

The Aluminum Association of Canada objected to the characterizing, saying monthly fluctuations in “crisis times” do not amount to a surge.

In blunt language, Ms. Freeland joined industry trade groups in questioning the timing of the decision.

“By imposing these tariffs, the United States has taken the absurd decisions to harm its own people at a time when its economy is suffering the deepest crisis since the Great Depression,” she said. “Any American who buys a can of beer or of soda, or a car or a bike, will suffer. In fact, the very washing machines manufactured at the Whirlpool plant where the president made his announcement yesterday will become more expensive for Americans and less competitive with machines made elsewhere in the world as a result of these tariffs.”

She said it will be harder for car-makers to meet the goal enshrined in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a major trade deal that Mr. Trump negotiated with his North American neighbors. The deal, which went into effect July 1, calls for automakers to use a higher share of materials made within the continent.

“The timing is just terrible. The USMCA trade agreement is barely a month old, the economy is fresh off the worst quarter in American history, and here comes a tax increase on something everyone uses. It makes no sense politically, let alone economically,” said Ryan Young, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Jim McGreevy, the president and CEO of the Beer Institute, said the tariffs will result in downstream costs for brewers.

“For the beer brewer, I can tell you actions like yesterday’s raise the cost of production,” he told The Washington Times. “And aluminum is the single-highest input cost for a production brewery.”

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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