Canadian Finance Minister Says His Government Is Prepared To Retaliate On U.S. Trade

Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau said over the weekend that his government is ready to retaliate against the U.S. on trade if Canada is not exempted from hefty new duties being imposed on American imports of steel and aluminum.

“Canada is an integral part of the supply chain on steel and aluminum in North America,” Minister Morneau told CTV Question Period on Sunday morning. “We clearly have said that this is important to maintain the ability for us to trade back and forth… And obviously we’re going to be firm. We’re going to say that this is not an acceptable possibility for us to put tariffs on an important commodity like steel and aluminum.”

Trump announced the proposed tariffs late last week, outlining a 25% tariff on imported steel and a 10% tariff on imported aluminum. Canada is the top supplier of both metals to the U.S., with $15 billion a year in combined sales. Minister Morneau said his Liberal government’s first approach is to make its position on the issue known. If that fails, the Finance Minister said “We’ve clearly said that we’re prepared to react.”

“I spoke to Treasury Secretary (Steven) Mnuchin this week to give him our point of view,” explained Minister Morneau. “He clearly understood. So we’re going to keep working to make sure that all of the people that are involved in this decision get to what we hope will be the right answer.”

The Finance Minister offered no specifics regarding potential retaliatory trade measures. He also rejected the U.S. government’s national security rationale for imposing tariffs, saying that they would “harm” both Americans and American businesses.

“We’re going to remind them that we don’t think a trade war is in anyone’s best interests, and we don’t want to be forced to react, but of course we will if we have to,” said Minister Morneau. “We’re working to make sure we get to the right conclusion, which is to exempt Canada from this action.”