U.S. President Donald Trump took aim again at Canada on Friday, slamming America’s neighbour as being “highly restrictive on trade,” just a day after the president slapped hefty tariffs against Canadian-made steel and aluminum.
Trump blasted Canada on Twitter saying the country has treated American farmers very poorly for a very long time, while hinting at possible action against the Canadian lumber industry.
“Canada has treated our Agricultural business and Farmers very poorly for a very long period of time,” the president tweeted. “Highly restrictive on Trade! They must open their markets and take down their trade barriers! They report a really high surplus on trade with us. Do Timber & Lumber in U.S.?”
Trump’s comments comes after the Canadian government retaliated with dollar-for-dollar tariff “countermeasures” in the wake of the U.S. tariff announcement.
“This is $16.6 billion of retaliation,” Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Thursday. “This is the strongest trade action Canada has taken in the post-war era. This is a very strong response, it is a proportionate response, it is perfectly reciprocal. This is a very strong Canadian action in response to a very bad U.S. decision.”
According to the most recent statistics from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s website, the U.S. goods and services trade with Canada totalled an estimated US$673.9 billion in 2017. The U.S. exported $341.2 billion to Canada, while importing US$332.8 billion. The U.S. goods and services trade surplus with Canada was US$8.4 billion in 2017, according to the website.
David MacNaughton, Canada’s Ambassador to the U.S., pointed out that America runs a trade surplus with Canada’s agriculture industry.
“American farmers are some of the biggest beneficiaries of NAFTA and Canada-U.S. trade,” MacNaughton tweeted. “The U.S. has a $1.9 billion trade surplus with Canada in agriculture and agri-food, which includes a $333 million surplus in dairy #FriendsPartnersAllies.”
On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the steel and aluminum tariffs were “totally unacceptable.”
“Americans remain our partners, our allies and our friends,” Trudeau said. “This is not about the American people. We have to believe that at some point common sense will prevail, but we see no sign of that with this action today by the U.S. administration.”
WATCH: Canada threatening U.S. with tariffs on nearly $13B worth of goods
Trudeau lashed out at Trump’s protectionism and vowed to protect Canadian jobs.
“The government of Canada is confident that shared values, geography and common interests will ultimately overcome protectionism,” Trudeau said.
“We will always protect Canadian workers and Canadian interests.”
Canada, Mexico and the European Union were exempted from import duties of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum when the tariffs were first imposed in March, but those exemptions were set to expire Friday.
WATCH: EU warns Trump tariffs could trigger ‘severe turbulence’ on global markets
The steel and aluminum tariffs could also complicate the the Trump administration’s efforts to renegotiate NAFTA, a pact that the president had condemned as a job-killing “disaster.”
The White House released a statement from Trump Thursday night saying of NAFTA: “Earlier today, this message was conveyed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada: The United State (sic) will agree to a fair deal, or there will be no deal at all.”
Trump had offered permanent exemption from the steel and aluminum tariffs if they agreed to U.S. demands on NAFTA.
–with a file from The Canadian Press