Canada will impose about $12.6 billion worth of retaliatory tariffs on United States goods on July 1. The announcement by Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland was accompanied by a list of affected products by the Department of Finance. The affected products will include US imports of steel, yogurt, caffeinated roasted coffee, toilet paper and sleeping bags, among other items. Freeland said she had already spoken to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer about the issue.
The US has levied tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum on many nations, including Canada and the European Union. The White House stated that its goal in implementing the tariffs is protecting US jobs. US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says the tariffs were designed in part to stop cheap steel entering the US via Canada and other countries.
The US and Canada are among each other’s top trade partners, exchanging nearly $700 billion in goods and services last year. The US is the top foreign market for Canada’s steel and aluminum, while Canada is the destination for more than half of US steel exports. The US accounted for 55 percent of Canada’s steel imports in 2017.
US President Donald Trump’s announcements on trade have caused fallouts around the world. In May, the US said it would not extend exemptions from the tariffs to Canada and Mexico, its partners in North American Free Trade Agreement. Several countries, including Canada, are challenging the US tariffs with complaints against the US to the World Trade Organization.
Other major US allies are also striking back in the escalating trade dispute. The EU enacted tariffs on more than $3 billion worth of US goods, including bourbon, yachts, and motorcycles, at the end of June. Mexico levied tariffs on US products including pork, cheese, cranberries, whiskey and apples on June 5.
Canada has also unveiled an aid package for affected industries and workers consisting mainly of commercial financing and insurance for firms in the steel and aluminum sectors. According to the government, the steel and aluminum industries employ more than 33,500 people in Canada. Ken Neumann, director in Canada for the United Steelworkers union, said the aid package is “a good first step that will need to be expanded if the trade dispute continues beyond the short-term.”