“Canada was taking advantage of us as usual,” he said.
Trump’s move comes after the president’s biggest trade achievement – the replacement deal for NAFTA – entered into force on 1 July. It was a very famous date for the authorities in the three countries after more than two years of tense negotiations between the governments and the two. US Congress.
Trump had considered re-enacting the aluminum tariff from mid-June, but was held at the insistence of US companies and officials because the USMCA was just a few days before it took effect.
According to the White House Proclamation, the tariff will be levied on “non-alloyless aluminum” imported from Canada. According to the World Bank, Canada was the top exporter of that type of aluminum in 2018. Such materials are used to make aluminum ingots, blocks, billets and slabs.
The Canadian government has not yet reacted to Trump’s decision, but earlier on Thursday a senior Canadian government official told POLITICO: “If it does, we’ll have a lot more to say.”
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce rejected Trump’s decision, stating that Canadian exports of aluminum to the United States are “no threat to national security”.
“At a time when our economies are struggling with the Kovid-19 economic downturn, these charges will only cause disruption in North American supply chains,” said Mark Agnew, senior director of international business for the Canadian Chamber.
In June, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer admitted during a Senate Finance Committee hearing that the recent increase in imported steel and aluminum was “considerable from Canada, some from Mexico.”
“This is some real concern for us and we are watching”
Last year, the Trump administration exempted Canada and Mexico from their tariffs on imported steel after staying with tariffs for more than a year. Trump imposed those tariffs on most countries around the world in 2018 in the name of national security.
but under the agreement To lift the tariff, the US said it could raise duties again after conducting consultations with Canada and “in the event that imports of aluminum or steel products are meaningful beyond historical versions of trade over a period of time” Increases. ”
The US business chief said he is in talks with both countries about this, but it is unclear whether the talks are part of formal consultation, Agreement with Canada on this issue.
Trump said that Canadian aluminum producers have broken their commitment under the deal and that Lighthizer has advised me that this step is absolutely necessary to protect our aluminum industry in order to reimpose tariffs.
The US Chamber of Commerce was quick to criticize the administration’s move to re-implement aluminum tariffs, noting that US companies would be suffering the brunt.
Myron Brilliant, executive vice president and head of international affairs of the US Chamber, said, “These tariffs will raise costs for American manufacturers, opposed by most American aluminum producers and will draw vengeance against American exports.” We urge the administration to reconsider the move. ‘
The US auto industry said on Thursday that it was “upset” by the Trump administration’s decision.
“While we support leveling the playing field, the auto industry believes that no administration should use only Section 232 officers for true national security threats,” Driving American Jobs Coalition, which various American The auto industry represents the groups, a statement said.
According to the agreement, Canada can retaliate only in the affected area. However, trade experts have argued that Canada can still retaliate with duties on other major US goods, like agricultural products.
Ottawa previously imposed retaliatory tariffs against more than $ 12 billion in American products in response to US tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, mostly American agricultural goods. Those duties were lifted when the agreement was reached in May 2019.
The push to revive tariffs stems from two US primary aluminum producers, Century Aluminum and Magnitude 7 Metals, who argue that an increase in aluminum coming from Canada has led to a drop in aluminum prices.
“The president’s leadership helps continue domestic production of this important strategic material and secure the field of play for thousands of American aluminum workers,” said Michael Bless, president and CEO of Century Aluminum.
But the broader American aluminum industry presented by the Aluminum Association has urged the Trump administration against tariffs or quotas.
Lauren Gardner and Andy Blechford contributed to this report.