Donald Trump’s steel tariffs a ‘crazy idea’: Conference Board of Canada

WATCH: Pedro Antuses, deputy chief economist at the Conference Board of Canada, weighs in on Donald Trump's recently announced tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

The Conference Board of Canada is calling U.S. President Donald Trump’s recently announced tariffs on steel a “misunderstanding of the benefits of trade” that could be “very costly for Canada.”

“We have trouble reading what Trump is up to,” deputy chief economist Pedro Antuses said on Monday.

“This is just another one of these crazy ideas that, I think fundamentally, economists and most people agree are bad. Somehow the administration in the U.S. is thinking they can win from these kinds of wars.”

READ MORE: Donald Trump warns Canada won’t get a break on steel tariffs without ‘fair’ NAFTA deal

Watch below: U.S. President Donald Trump is turning up the pressure on NAFATA negotiations by going after steel imports. As Tom Vernon explains, the steel industry in Canada is feeling stuck in the middle of a political fight.

Canadian steel industry feels stuck in middle of political fights
Canadian steel industry feels stuck in middle of political fights
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Trump announced last week he was considering imposing hefty duties on imported steel and aluminium as a means of protecting U.S. producers.

He tweeted on Monday that both Canada and Mexico shouldn’t expect to get a break on the tariffs without a “new and fair NAFTA (North American Fair Trade Agreement) agreement.”

He went on to say that Canada must treat American farmers better and that Mexico has to do more to stop drugs from “pouring into the U.S.”

Antuses said it’s possible Trump won’t follow through on the “threats,” but said if the tariffs were put in place, Alberta would feel the impact.

“There is some steel manufacturing in Alberta, so yes there will be some impact,” he said.

“The implications are in the broader supply chain, because even if we are manufacturing pipelines or oil rig equipment, you will need the steel to manufacture those products.

“It’s a very integrated supply chain as we know in the manufacturing sector across the three NAFTA countries.”

READ MORE: Donald Trump’s steel, aluminum tariffs: Here’s what you need to know

Antuses said he would like to see Canada “stand firm” and keep “posing the message that free trade allows wins on both sides.”

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“There are adjustment costs to free trade, but we’ve gone through those already,” Antuses said. “The NAFTA agreement dates from 1984, it’s all benefits that we [now] stand to lose from a cancellation of NAFTA or higher tariffs.”

Monday was the last day for the latest round of NAFTA negotiations which were taking place in Mexico.

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