USA isolated at G-7 meeting as tariffs prompt retaliation

Geneva Stokes
June 3, 2018

(The U.S. has a $8.4 billion trade surplus in goods and services with Canada.) The dispute over tariffs is part of a larger trade dispute between the United States and its two neighbors-Canada and Mexico-over NAFTA.

Mexico complained that the tariffs will "distort worldwide trade" and said it will penalize US imports including pork, apples, grapes, cheeses and flat steel. Brussels has lodged an eight-page list at the worldwide trade body of goods it would hit with retaliatory measures.

A visibly frustrated Trudeau responded nearly immediately, saying Canada will impose tariffs against imports from the USA of steel, aluminum, and other products."We are imposing dollar for dollar tariffs for every dollar levied against Canadians by the USA", he said, adding the levies will take effect July 1 and will remain in place until the USA eliminates its measures against Canada.

"I want to make it clear", Le Maire said, "that it is up to the United States administration to make the right decisions to alleviate the situation and ease the difficulties".

The six other members and the European Union all voiced opposition to the USA tariffs, Aso said after the second day of the talks. "We are expecting everybody to play by the rules".

Others speaking out include Here for America, which represents worldwide automakers and dealers that operate in the U.S., and the American Chemistry Council, which said the tariffs would mean higher costs to build USA manufacturing capacity.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday criticized Canada for being "highly restrictive on trade", then suggested replacing NAFTA with separate deals for his northern neighbour and Mexico, as Canada filed a legal challenge over steel and aluminum tariffs. "As we have said, we will always stand up for our workers, and today we're announcing retaliatory measures to this attack on our industry".

Negotiators from the three North American partners have failed to reach an agreement to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump again called "a bad deal". "Our offer was "you take this gun away from us, we sit together as friends and equals and we discuss" and eventually this could lead to negotiations", Malmstrom told a news conference in Brussels.

"So we never got this".

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"The effect of tariffs is going to be to increase unemployment very sharply because now aluminum and steel are going to be sold not to America, but to manufacturers in Asia and in Europe, and they can now produce their manufactures with lower-priced aluminum and lower-priced steel and undersell American manufacturers", he added.

Friction in Whistler could telegraph an even tenser meeting next week in Quebec, when the leaders of the G-7 meet, including President Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Mexico announced "equivalent" measures on a wide range of USA farm and industrial products, including pork legs, apples, grapes, cheese, steel and other goods.

Needless to say, the United States now needs to be prepared for a chain of tit-for-tat tariffs on a range of products.

Trade war fears between the United States and its trading partners have been rife since March.

Other EU countries such as France favor a more robust stance against what they see as American bullying. Trudeau called this moment a turning point in the Canada-U.S. relationship. These could come into force from June 20, although European Union officials said it might take a little longer.

The tariffs are expected to affect European Union exports that were worth €6.4bn (£5.6bn) in 2017.

Trudeau wrote on Twitter: "American tariffs on Canadian aluminum & steel are unacceptable".

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