Saturday, December 4

Softwood lumber: Minister Freeland talks about retaliation against the United States

Canada is ready to fight back against the recent increase in US tariffs on lumber produced in Canada, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Thursday.

“We will do precisely what we have done successfully with two previous US administrations: we present our case clearly and rationally. We’re also making it very, very clear that Canada is ready to fight back, to defend the national interest, ”Freeland said in response to criticism in the House.

Conservative foreign affairs spokesman Michael Chong argued that the Liberal government was not effective against a series of protectionist trade measures by the administration of US President Joe Biden. Mr. Chong was one of many conservatives to blame the Liberal government, which faces mounting criticism of the growing list of trade irritants with Washington.

Minister Freeland did not provide details of any retaliatory measures that could be considered. She did, however, allude to the bitter battles that Canada waged against the previous administration of Republican Donald Trump, which imposed punitive tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, at the height of the renegotiation of the Accord. North American free trade in 2018.

Mr. Trump had used a section of US trade law that authorizes the imposition of tariffs if a “threat to national security” is perceived by Washington.

Canada retaliated with dollar-for-dollar countermeasures on American steel and aluminum, but also on a host of other products, from whiskey to toilet paper to motorboats.

With the departure of Donald Trump and the arrival of the new Biden administration, some were hoping that a new level of trade balance could be restored between Canada and the United States, even though Democrats are traditionally more protectionist.

Hence the litany of protectionist woes that Mr. Chong enumerated on Thursday: a proposed US-made electric vehicle tax credit that threatens jobs in the Canadian auto industry, the revival of procurement policies ” rigorous “US purchasing, and” measures targeting our dairy farmers, actions against pipelines, which have contributed to soaring energy prices, and now: double tariffs on lumber. “

Tariffs of 17.9%

The US Department of Commerce said on Wednesday that the combined anti-dumping and countervailing duty rate for most Canadian producers will ultimately be 17.9%. This rate is slightly lower than the preliminary rate of 18.32% mentioned in May, but double the initial rate of 8.99%.

“It is clear that Canada’s reputation in Washington has waned,” Chong said of the renewed relationship Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hoped to forge with President Biden. “It is clear that this prime minister does not have a close working relationship with the president,” Chong accused during question period, asking Mr. Trudeau what he planned to do about it.

Ms. Freeland responded by citing the specter of retaliatory measures.

Bloc Québécois MP Mario Simard said that Canada’s main trading partner is now acting like its adversary. “People used to say Trump was the problem. Today it’s Biden. And we have the same problem, ”said Mr. Simard.

International Trade Minister Mary Ng said she raised the issue of the Electric Vehicle Purchase Tax Credit when she was in Washington last week at the Summit meetings. North American leaders.

Earlier, Ms. Ng reiterated her disappointment with the new lumber tariff, which she described as unfair. Ms. Ng said the government was pursuing litigation under the new North American trade agreement, as well as with the World Trade Organization.

The British Columbia Lumber Council said the increase came as no surprise, but was still disappointing as U.S. producers are not even able to meet domestic demand in the states. -United.

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