Canada to offer aid to steel, aluminum industries

Conservative MP Maxime Bernier talks with media in Ottawa on Wednesday

Conservative MP Maxime Bernier talks with media in Ottawa on Wednesday

So far, Trudeau's move to impose retaliatory tariffs has the backing of the Canadian people.

It begs the question: what comes next?

"We will not escalate, but equally, we will not back down", Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said at a news conference in Hamilton on Friday.

"We're not going for the escalation, but will not retreat", said Freeland.

"The real solution to this unfortunate and unprecedented dispute", she said, "is for the United States to rescind its tariffs on our steel and aluminum".

Trump, of course, has continuously personally insulted Trudeau ever since the Prime Minister's comments on retaliatory tariffs following the G7 Summit earlier this month.

"The two leaders agreed to stay in close touch on a way forward", it said.

The penalties will add 25 per cent to the cost of United States steel, and 10 per cent to aluminium and consumer goods.

The aid package - more than twice the value of last year's plan to help the softwood lumber industry - was announced at the same time the government confirmed plans to impose $16.6-billion in "dollar-for-dollar" countermeasures on us goods.

"Canada has always been a safe, secure and reliable source of steel and aluminum for the USA market. Unions welcome the Canadian government's rapid response in defense of Canadian workers as an important first step in protecting workers and communities who will be adversely affected by this misguided attack on Canadian industry", said CLC President Hassan Yussuff.

The Trump administration is studying whether to put tariffs on Canadian autos, which economists say would help plunge the economy into a recession.

Canada and the US are among the world's two largest trading partners with an estimated $ 673.9 billion worth of goods and services exchanged in 2017, with the US scoring a small surplus ($ 8.4 billion), according to the US Trade Representative's office.

A month later the trade turmoil continues, however, with Trump and his officials taking aim at Trudeau personally, as well as other Canadian industries over what the US president calls unfair trade practices. She said she is confident that "common sense" will prevail.

"I think that prediction has been borne out", she said. "I think all of us, at this point, fully anticipate there will be some moments of drama in the future".

But at the end of May, Trump said that Canada and the European Union would be swept into the tariffs, setting off a series of tit-for-tat tariffs by close USA trading partners.

About 6,000 jobs in Canada are at risk due to the United States tariffs, the CD Howe Institute has estimated.

Many of the USA products were chosen for their political impact, rather than economic. "We support that", he said. "But from the US perspective, it took the threat of tariffs to do that, to prod Canada toward that goal".

Retaliatory tariffs on C$16.6bn worth of United States products are due to come into effect on July.

"We support our federal government's retaliatory tariffs in response to the USA administration's illegal protectionist actions", he told reporters on a conference call Friday.

The Trudeau government's decision to stand up to Trump with retaliatory measures has attracted wide support in Canada.

"Any trade action is disruptive on both sides of the border", Freeland said. This is unacceptable. In particular, in the case of energy tubular, steel plates and rebar products, we will work with stakeholders in the coming weeks on an appropriate response, including safeguards.

On support for businesses and workers, Friday's federal package includes similar measures to those offered by Ottawa previous year in response USA duties on softwood lumber products from Canada.

Extending the duration of work-sharing agreements by 38 additional weeks under the Employment Insurance program to help employers retain their skilled workforce and avoid layoffs during challenging times.

Ottawa is also promising to boost funding for the provinces and territories to increase job and training programs.

The US is the top foreign market for Canada's steel and aluminium, while Canada is the destination for more than half of US steel exports.

Offering up to $250 million in new support through the Strategic Innovation Fund to help bolster the competitiveness of Canadian manufacturers and better integrate the Canadian supply chain of steel and aluminum.

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