Aluminum tariffs reimposed by Trump administration

File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / tmainiero

Aluminum made in Canada is subject once again to American tariffs.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced Thursday afternoon that the government would again impose a 10 per cent tariff on Canadian aluminum brought to the U.S.

Trump made the announcement during a campaign stop at a Whirlpool plant in Ohio as part of a “Buy American” initiative. The president called the tariff “absolutely necessary.”

Global News reported that the tariff could take effect either late Thursday or Friday.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland issued a statement following the announcement which stated that “Canada intends to swiftly impose dollar-for-dollar countermeasures.”

“Canadian aluminum does not undermine US national security. Canadian aluminum strengthens US national security and has done so for decades through unparalleled cooperation between our two countries,” she said in the statement.

“In the time of a global pandemic and an economic crisis, the last thing Canadian and American workers need is new tariffs that will raise costs for manufacturers and consumers, impede the free flow of trade, and hurt provincial and state economies,” added Freeland.

Also in Ottawa, the opposition Conservative government was quick to react, criticizing the Trudeau Liberals for failing to protect Canadian aluminum workers.

“The Trudeau government must immediately retaliate and send a clear message to the U.S. that we will not restrict our exports,” read a statement put out Thursday by the Conservatives. “Unfortunately, the Trudeau government has put Canada in a weaker position to combat these tariffs, after the concessions they made during the last round of American trade action. Canada can only retaliate on like products, putting our country at a strategic disadvantage.”

The Ontario government also issued a statement expressing disappointment in Trump’s decision, which will likely have a damaging impact on Ontario businesses, workers and consumers.  However, the province pointed out that the tariffs will also hurt American businesses and consumers.

Earlier this year, even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said that re-introducing the tariffs “would be like a bad horror movie.”

“Most of the U.S. aluminum sector opposes them, and they’ll hurt American manufacturers who use aluminum as an input,” the Chamber said. “Canada will surely retaliate against U.S. exports. This is the wrong way to mark the entry-into-force of the new North American free-trade agreement on July 1.”

Tariffs were previously imposed on Canadian aluminum by the Trump administration two years ago, at a rate of 10 per cent. There was also a 25 per cent tariff on Canadian steel. Canada retaliated a month later with its own tariffs on a list of American products made with U.S. steel and aluminum. A deal to lift the tariffs was agreed upon in May 2019.

-With files from Adelle Loiselle