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Canada gearing up to slap more tariffs on U.S. imports

Revised list of products, including some U.S. farm products, is likely next week

File photo of apples in a U.S. supermarket. (CHUYN/iStock/Getty Images)

Canada will update its list of U.S. imports, including farm products, on which it will place tariffs in retaliation to U.S. tariffs on imported Canadian steel and aluminum, David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to the United States, said Monday.

“The intention… is not to escalate anything but simply to do what we said we’d do — have dollar-for-dollar retaliation,” MacNaughton said in Washington, D.C. while addressing the North American Agricultural Journalists’ annual meeting, part of which was livestreamed.

“I think that’s what Canadians expect of us to be true to what we said we were going to do. What we will do is pull off the list of potential targets and have consultations within Canada and the United States to see which of them will have the least impact on Canadians and the most impact on Americans frankly. That’s what retaliation is designed to do.”

Last July 1 Canada announced it was slapping $16.6 billion worth of tariffs on many U.S. imports ranging from kitchen appliances, boats and lawnmowers to ketchup, pickles, Jack Daniels whisky and toilet paper, in retaliation to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to hit imported steel and aluminum with 25 and 10 per cent tariffs.

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said then and now that the tariffs, launched under section 232 of the U.S. Trade Expansion Act of 1962 — legislation which allows the president to restrict imports seen as threatening national security — are illegal.

“We will not escalate and we will not back down,” Freeland told reporters in Hamilton June 29.

Since announcing its tariffs last year, Canada removed some on U.S. steel and aluminum because the metals were part of integrated supply chain.

“(W)e didn’t want to harm both sides of the border so we’re looking at releasing a new list… within the next week I would say would be most probable,” MacNaughton said.

“A significant number of (U.S.) agricultural products” will likely to added to the new products tariffs list, MacNaughton was reported as saying in the online publication AgInsider. Apples, pork and ethanol have been mentioned, and wine is a possibility too.

Since Canada, the U.S. and Mexico have ratified a new free trade agreement, Canada says the U.S. should end its tariffs on imported Canadian steel and aluminum.

Freeland has said repeatedly the tariffs must end before the new Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement (USMCA) is ratified.

AgInsider reported MacNaughton as saying if the tariffs aren’t gone before Canada’s federal election this fall they will become part of the debate and “it won’t be pleasant…”

AgInsider reports Trump administration officials as saying the tariffs could be replaced by quotas — something Canada also opposes.

AgInsider also reported that MacNaughton expressed dismay at the possibility the U.S. would resolve its trade war with China with Beijing promising larger purchases of U.S. products, including farm exports.

China has stopped importing Canadian canola seed. It’s widely believed the ban followed from Canada’s arrest of the chief financial officer of Huawei at the request of the U.S., which accuses her of fraud.

“We would expect the United States… to be a strong ally of ours,” AgInsider reported MacNaughton as saying.

Dale Moore, executive vice-president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said he expects Congress will vote on USMCA ratification this year but did not suggest a date, AgInsider reported. The tariffs “need to be addressed,” Moore is quoted as saying.

U.S. farm groups support the trade pact and repeatedly have said the tariffs should end.

“I am convinced and confident we will get USMCA done,” AgInsider reported Moore as saying.

Senate finance committee chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa directly asked Trump to remove the tariffs a few weeks ago and got a flat rejection, AgInsider reported.

Allan Dawson is a reporter for the Manitoba Co-operator at Miami, Man.

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