Canada on Friday hit back at the US with retaliatory tariffs on summertime essentials, including Florida orange juice, ketchup and Kentucky bourbon, in its opening salvo in a trade war with US President Donald Trump.
The measures targeting C$16.6 billion (US$12.62 billion) in US steel, aluminum and consumer goods is to take effect today.
The tit-for-tat duties are a response to punishing US steel and aluminum tariffs imposed at the start of last month.
Photo: AP / Peter Power, the Canadian Press
Ottawa also unveiled C$2 billion in aid for the two sectors and their 33,500 workers.
Ottawa “had no choice but to announce reciprocal countermeasures to the steel and aluminum tariffs that the United States imposed on June 1,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Trump in a call on Friday, according to a statement from his office.
“The two leaders agreed to stay in close touch on a way forward,” it added.
Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland announced the tariffs at a steel facility in Hamilton, Ontario, where she was flanked by brawny workers in yellow hard hats.
“We will not escalate and we will not back down,” she said, adding that this trade action was the strongest Ottawa has taken since World War II.
However, she said that the move was made with “regret” and “very much in sorrow, not in anger” against a close ally.
The list of more than 250 US goods subject to Canadian duties — including Florida juice, Wisconsin toilet paper and North Carolina gherkins — aim to pressure Trump supporters in key states in November’s US midterm elections.
The penalties would add 25 percent to the cost of US steel and 10 percent to aluminum and consumer goods.
Business executives last week told lawmakers that escalation into an all-out trade war would be devastating to the Canadian economy, which sends about 75 percent of its exports to the US.
If Trump steps up his attacks on Canada’s economy and imposes a 25 percent tariff on automobiles as threatened, it would lead to “carmageddon,” Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association president Flavio Volpe told a Canadian House of Commons committee hearing on Tuesday.
Canadians are overwhelmingly in favor of the retaliation.
In Ottawa, officials and others have declined an invitation to the US ambassador’s annual Fourth of July bash.
“I’ve politely declined, because I’m not happy with the direction of the American government and their constant attacks on our country,” Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson told public broadcaster Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
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