Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told President Donald Trump Monday night that he has “serious concerns” about Trump’s plan to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.
Canada is the largest exporter of steel to the U.S. Reciprocal trade between the two nations amounts to $14 billion, with $7 billion in sales on both sides of the border, according to the Canadian Steel Producers Association (CSPA).
A news release from the Prime Minister’s Office reads, “The prime minister also registered his serious concern about the U.S. administration’s proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum.”
According to a CBC News source, Trudeau went to bat for Canadian steelworkers and said that imposing tariffs at this time would be detrimental to reaching a consensus on the North American Free Trade Agreement, another topic of discussion on the call. The source also suggested the U.S. is anxious to conclude the trade negotiations.
Trump has said he would back out of NAFTA if it is not renegotiated to his liking.
If the tariffs are imposed, the justification will be an obscure 1962 piece of Cold War legislation called the Trade Expansion Act, which allows the president to do so if reliance on foreign steel and aluminum is perceived as a danger to national security.
Although Trump is fond of suggesting the U.S. has a trade deficit with Canada, the president’s own economic advisors have called it a trade surplus. As far as steel is concerned, the CPSA calls the trading relationship “free, fair and reciprocal, noting that “U.S. steel exports provide one-third of Canada’s domestic market. Steel exports from Canada only represent six percent of the U.S. domestic market.”
Canada is also the number one export destination for U.S. steel, accounting for 50 percent of the foreign market.