Return of North American economy will negate need for tariffs, Trudeau tells Trump

Issue emerged after Canadian producers were forced to make a more generic form of aluminum and ship it to the U.S.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Donald Trump to think twice Monday before imposing new tariffs on Canadian aluminum, saying the sector is emerging from the pandemic-induced production stance that prompted the White House to consider such measures in the first place.

Trudeau, who said he had spoken to the U.S. president earlier in the day, told him that with the North American economy getting back up to speed, Canada’s aluminum smelters would soon be back producing value-added specialty products for the American auto sector.

The spectre of new tariffs emerged last month after Canadian producers, unable to shut down production and with their usual customers hamstrung by the impact of COVID-19, were forced to make a more generic form of aluminum and ship it to warehouses in the United States.

That alarmed certain U.S. smelter owners and operators, who have been urging the U.S. trade representative’s office to slap fresh levies on imports from Canada.

“I highlighted to the president that the pandemic has disrupted usual manufacturing processes and supply chains, and that has caused certain disruption in the aluminum sector that is starting to realign itself, given the economies are starting up again and manufacturing is getting going,” Trudeau said after a call with Trump.

“I impressed upon him that it would be a shame to see tariffs come in between our two countries at a time where we’re celebrating NAFTA and at a time where we want our businesses and our manufacturers to get going as quickly as possible.”

Canada has been on the outside looking in when it comes to the coming into force of NAFTA’s successor, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

READ MORE: Politics, pandemics and Russian aluminum: why Canada faces fresh U.S. tariffs

While Trump welcomed Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to a celebratory event at the White House last week, Trudeau kept his distance, citing the tariff dispute and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic among his reasons.

The U.S. trade representative reportedly gave Canada a deadline of July 1 to impose export restrictions — the very day the USMCA took effect. That deadline has come and gone without a hint from U.S. trade ambassador Robert Lighthizer about what happens next.

Trudeau said he and Trump also discussed the Canada-U.S. border, where non-essential travel has been curtailed since March in an effort to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. The 30-day bilateral agreement to limit discretionary cross-border travel without restricting trade or essential workers has been extended three times and is now set to expire July 21.

Since the last extension, however, the public health crisis in the U.S. has exploded.

More than 100,000 new COVID-19 cases were identified over the weekend, particularly in southern states that reopened early, with Florida emerging as the new epicentre. Canada has had 108,000 confirmed cases in total.

Hospitals in major urban centres across the United States are again nearing capacity and health care workers face another critical shortage of personal protective equipment like masks and respirators.

Trudeau demurred when asked whether this time, Canada might consider extending the 30-day window.

“We’ve pledged to continue to monitor closely the situation that is constantly evolving,” he said.

“We will be discussing with our American partners what the next steps should be, and I think this is a situation that is evolving rapidly and we need to keep responding to the situation on the ground.”

James McCarten, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Donald TrumpJustin TrudeauNAFTA

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

West Shore RCMP arrives just in time thanks to tip

Officers remind of resources after mental health call Monday morning

Man arrested after speeding to Victoria court date for driving offence

West Shore RCMP remind drivers to be mindful of construction zones

Victoria police seek suspects in series of bear spray attacks

Police responded to several calls Saturday evening

Lamborghini driver slapped with nearly $1,000 in fines while speeding in Central Saanich

Vehicle impounded by Central Saanich police, 11 points issued

Weekend sees 267 cases, 3 deaths in B.C.; Dr. Henry says events leading to COVID spread

There are currently 1,302 active cases in B.C., while 3,372 people are under public health monitoring

Lightning strike: Tampa Bay blanks Dallas 2-0 to win Stanley Cup

Hedman wins Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP

Shawnigan Lake’s Kubica gets 25 to life for murder in California

Former Shawnigan Lake man convicted of killing woman in 1990

She warned her son about toxic drugs, then he was dead

Donna Bridgman’s son died at the age of 38 in Vancouver

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Police seek help in naming Cowichan farm stand theft suspect

Video captured man prying cash box out of stand on Norcross Road

Pedestrian dies in motor vehicle incident along the highway near Nanaimo Airport

Police investigating scene where 37-year-old woman from Nanaimo died

Duration of Tour de Rock stop in Chemainus much shorter than usual

Four alumni riders don’t get to come for breakfast in COVID year

Liberals seek to fast track new COVID-19 aid bill after CERB expires

Government secured NDP support for legislation by hiking amount of benefits by $100 to $500 per week

Most Read