U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday Canada must improve the way it treats American farmers as the president embraces possibility of a trade war.
Trump lashed out at Canada and Mexico on Twitter, reiterating his view that the U.S. has a raw deal when it comes to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
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Last Thursday, Trump hinted he would impose hefty duties on imported steel and aluminum in an effort to protect American producers that could have a ripple effect by igniting a trade war.
During a White House meeting with U.S. steel industry brass, Trump announced he would slap a 25 per cent tariff on steel imports and another 10 per cent on aluminum imports, vowing to help an American industry, he says, that had been treated unfairly by other countries.
The president appeared to suggest Monday that Mexico and Canada may be exempt from the tariffs should the three countries sign a new NAFTA deal.
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“We have large trade deficits with Mexico and Canada. NAFTA, which is under renegotiation right now, has been a bad deal for U.S.A,” Trump tweeted. “Massive relocation of companies & jobs. Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum will only come off if new & fair NAFTA agreement is signed. Also, Canada must..
“…treat our farmers much better. Highly restrictive. Mexico must do much more on stopping drugs from pouring into the U.S. They have not done what needs to be done. Millions of people addicted and dying,” the president said in a series of tweets.
The U.S. president believes the import duties will help protect American jobs and will boost the U.S. economy. The Trump administration also cited national security interests for implementing the tariffs, saying the military needs a domestic supply for its tanks and ships.
“We’re going to build our steel industry back and our aluminum industry back,” Trump said.
The president has yet to formally announce the tariffs, but he’s expected to do so this week.
Trump has previously attacked Canada’s dairy industry and said the current NAFTA deal is a “disaster for our country.”
Last April, Trump launched an investigation into whether foreign steel arriving in the U.S. threatens national security.
“I wasn’t going to do this, but I was in Wisconsin the other day…Canada, what they’ve done to our dairy farm workers is a disgrace, it’s a disgrace,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office at the time. “I spent time with some of the farmers in Wisconsin and as you know rules, regulations, different things have changed and our farmers in Wisconsin and in New York State are being put out of business, our dairy farmers.”
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Trump went on to suggest similar things are happening along the “northern border states with Canada, having to do with lumber and timber.”
“The fact is NAFTA, whether it’s Mexico or Canada, is a disaster for our country,” Trump said. “It’s a disaster. It’s a trading disaster.”
Trump told a group of Wisconsin farmers that “what’s happened to you is very unfair.”
“It’s another very typical one-sided deal against the United States and it’s not going to be happening for very long.”
On Sunday, White House trade official Peter Navarro said no country would be exempted from steel and aluminum tariffs, including Canada.
“Canada’s 40 per cent of the (American aluminum) market. If you exempt Canada, then you have to put big, big tariffs on everybody else. So this is a measured, targeted approach,” Navarro told CNN.
The Trump administration also cited national security concerns for implementing the tariffs, saying the military needs a domestic supply for its tanks and ships.