Liam Fox Blasts Trump's 'Protectionism' Over Steel

Casey Dawson
June 1, 2018

Donald Trump announced worldwide plans for the tariffs - 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium - in March, but gave Canada, Mexico and the European Union limited exemptions to pursue trade negotiations.

At the same time, Ottawa will challenge the "illegal and counterproductive" U.S. measures under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and at the World Trade Organization, said Freeland.

Ottawa will also challenge the tariffs under NAFTA and World Trade Organisation rules, she said.

Trudeau, meanwhile, says it's impossible to seriously believe that Canada could ever be a national-security threat to an ally as close and important as the United States.

Canada will also launch challenges of the US tariffs at the World Trade Organization and through a Nafta panel.

Macron, who has forged a good relationship with the U.S. president, spoke to Trump on the phone, urging him to take part in negotiations with the EU, China and Japan to strengthen the rules of the World Trade Organisation.

Perrin Beatty, the president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said Canada should not walk away from the NAFTA table. The administration is separately moving ahead with tariffs on Chinese goods.

The administration's actions drew fire from Europe, Canada and Mexico and promises to quickly retaliate against USA exports.

Asked about the tariff escalations between Canada and the U.S.at the Mackinac Policy Conference, Gov. Rick Snyder told reporters it will take time to analyze the exact effect of the tariffs, but said it could be a cause for concern.

But Gary Howe, president of United Steel Workers Local 1005, said the tariffs might actually end up making more work for Canadians.

But on Thursday, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross made clear that the talks hadn't worked. Late on Thursday the U.S. president issued a statement about North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), over which Washington has been embroiled with Canada and Mexico.

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Ross offered little detail about what the EU, Canada and Mexico could do to have the tariffs lifted. Representaives are leaving Friday for Beijing for talks aimed at preventing a trade war with China.

Bernd Lange, the German socialist MEP who chairs the European parliament's worldwide trade committee, said the tariffs were "illegal" and insisted the EU would "make some countermeasures, no doubt about".

"We tried to do it through negotiation and we will now do it by standing together and formulating a common European answer, possibly working more closely with Mexico and Canada".

"Canada is certainly not a national security threat to the USA and we feel we should be exempted".

Foreign minister Chrystia Freeland called it "the strongest trade action Canada has taken in the post-war era". "We have orders that are already pending, and it's not like we can say, because of this, it's going up to this price". "In an increasingly protectionist world, inheriting the EU's old trade deals and winning new ones will be tougher than ever".

"In the case of the United Kingdom, where we send steel to the United States that is vital for their businesses and their defence industry, it is patently absurd".

Raj Shah, a White House spokesman, told Fox News: "The president's actions are about protecting American steel, American aluminum".

Trump imposed the steel and aluminum penalties under a 1962 law that gives the president broad power to increase or reduce tariffs on goods deemed critical to national security.

Mark Warner, a Toronto-based trade lawyer who has been closely following Nafta, took a more pessimistic view, given the newly fraught relations between the US and its partners.

This is the logic that makes mutually ruinous trade wars, once started, so hard to control. "The goals of restoring American industries to a sustainable operating domestic capacity and protecting national security must remain paramount".

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