The Monday decision to place the tariff on United States’ northern neighbor rekindles past trade tensions between the two countries.
Trudeau called the tariffs “unfair,” as reported in a readout of the call between the two world leaders. Both Trump and Trudeau agreed that it’s imperative for both countries to reach an agreement to settle the trade dispute that dates back the 1980s.
According to the statement from Prime Minister Trudeau’s office, the two leaders “reaffirmed the importance of the mutually-beneficial Canada-US trade relationship.”
The statement reads:
‘On the issue of softwood lumber, the Prime Minister refuted the baseless allegations by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the decision to impose unfair duties. The Prime Minister stressed that the Government of Canada will vigorously defend the interests of the Canadian softwood lumber industry, as we have successfully done in all past lumber disputes with the U.S. The two leaders agreed on the importance of reaching a negotiated agreement, recognizing the integrated nature of the industry between Canada and the United States.’
Left: Prime Minister's office readout of Trudeau's phone call with Trump
Right: White House readout of the very same call
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) April 26, 2017
The White House’s readout of the call, however, was vastly different then Canada’s. The statement reads:
‘President Donald J. Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke today. The two leaders discussed the dairy trade in Wisconsin, New York State, and various other places. They also discussed lumber coming into the United States. It was a very amicable call.’
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross commented on the trade dispute, saying: “It has been a bad week for U.S.-Canada trade relations. Last Monday, it became apparent that Canada intends to effectively cut off the last dairy products being exported from the United States. Today, in a different matter, the Department of Commerce determined a need to impose countervailing duties of roughly one billion dollars on Canadian softwood lumber exports to us. This is not our idea of a properly functioning Free Trade Agreement.”
But Trudeau maintains that Canada will uphold its international trade obligations:
‘The Prime Minister reaffirmed that Canada upholds its international trade obligations, including the North American Free Trade Agreement, under which the US continues to have duty-free and quota-free access for milk protein substances, including diafiltered milk, and that Canada would continue to defend its interests.’
Canada believes the trading of dairy products heavily benefits the United States. The statement from Trudeau’s office reads:
‘CANADA IMPORTS OVER $550 MILLION OF DAIRY PRODUCTS FROM THE US, BUT EXPORTS JUST OVER $110 MILLION TO THE US.’
The phone call followed a threatening tweet from President Trump Tuesday morning. The tweet was seemingly in relation to comments Trump made to Wisconsin dairy farmers last week when he said Canada has been doing “some very unfair things,” calling the trade deal between the dairy industry’s of both nations “very, very unfair.”
Canada has made business for our dairy farmers in Wisconsin and other border states very difficult. We will not stand for this. Watch!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 25, 2017
Trump’s recent comments, as well as placing the tariff on Canadian softwood lumber, sparked outrage from Canadian leaders, prompting Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland to hit back. She told CNN Money:
‘When it comes to defending Canada’s economic interests, we’re going to play hard. We’re nice guys: politeness is something we believe is a national virtue, but it’s not an accident that hockey is our national sport.’
It looks as though Trump picked a fight with the wrong country.
Feature Image via Getty Images.