Mon, May 08, 2017 - Page 14 News List

Canada’s reply to lumber tariffs ‘inappropriate’: US

TIT-FOR-TAT:Canada is reportedly looking at tariffs on US products including thermal coal, plywood, flooring, wood chips, wine and packaging material

AFP, WASHINGTON

Warnings from Canada that it might ban US thermal coal imports in retaliation to US tariffs slapped on its lumber are “inappropriate,” US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said on Saturday.

“Threats of retaliatory action are inappropriate and will not influence any final determinations,” Ross said in a statement.

He was reacting to reports that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was “seriously” considering prohibiting US thermal coal imports in response to a US move last month to impose tariffs of up to 24 percent on Canadian softwood lumber.

US President Donald Trump has accused Canada of being “very rough” on the US for years when it came to trade.

Trump, who promotes an “America First” stance, also said his government is looking at tackling Canada over developments he claimed had hurt US dairy farmers.

The dispute comes against a backdrop of Trump wanting to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) — although the lumber and dairy issues do not fall under its purview.

Trudeau was also looking at other retaliatory measures, such as duties on plywood, flooring, wood chips, packaging material and wine from the US state of Oregon, the Canadian Press news agency said.

“We hope we don’t have to act,” it quoted one Canadian government source saying. “We hope this dispute can be resolved.”

Trudeau has called the US tariffs “baseless” and “unfair.”

In his statement, Ross said that the US tariffs on lumber were “based on the facts ... not political considerations.”

“We continue to believe that a negotiated settlement is in the best interests of all parties,” he said,

Trump has said he had planned late last month to formally give notice to withdraw from NAFTA, but had been persuaded not to by telephone calls from Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

However, he told supporters that “if we can’t make a fair deal for our companies and our workers we will terminate NAFTA.”

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