Canada threatens to play hardball with Trump over lumber tariffs

07 May, 2017, 15:45 | Author: Valerie Burke

Anyone looking for a political decoder for how the Trudeau government might be interpreting Donald Trump's latest spate of anti-Canadian trade rhetoric could do worse than American comedian Stephen Colbert.

Last week, he attacked Canada's dairy industry, saying what the Great White North has done to USA farm workers is a "disgrace, it's a disgrace".

When MTN News spoke with RY Timber in Townsend past year, they were concerned that without an agreement, cheap Canadian lumber could flood the US market.

"This has been going on for a while and we're not going to put up with it", he said.

Canada and the United States have made progress in recent days on a dispute over Canadian lumber exports "but we are not there yet", Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Wednesday.

"It's good to treat people with respect", Freeland said today in a conference call from Berlin, where she was attending G20 meetings.

Trudeau was responding to the announcement of new USA duties of up to 24 percent on softwood lumber entering from Canada.

She adds progress has been made in talks with the U.S. commerce secretary, but when it comes to a deal, they're not there yet. United States dairy exports face Canadian tariffs of around 300%. Ross emphasized Canada is overall an important ally to the US.

The Prime Minister reaffirmed that Canada upholds its worldwide trade obligations, including the North America Free Trade Agreement, under which the U.S. continues to have duty-free and quota-free access for milk protein substances, including diafiltered milk, and that Canada would continue to defend it's interests.

Freeland, who described the tariffs as "punitive, unfair and just plain wrong", said Canada would strongly defend its domestic industry.

The owners of a Montana lumber mill says new tariffs on Canadian timber imposed by the Trump administration are a good start but don't go far enough.

She also argued that since much of the Canadian lumber goes towards building homes in the United States, the tariffs would cause home prices to go up $3,000 to $4,000.

The Trump administration announced Monday plans to impose duties of up to 24% on most Canadian lumber, charging that lumber companies there are subsidized by the government.

The Prime Minister's Office said that Trudeau and Trump also discussed bilateral trade in dairy products. Not that bad, according to the White House readout of the Trump-Trudeau phone call. Those tariffs have been in place for decades and are not new.

"They rely on imports", said Steve Rustja, a vice president at Canadian lumber company Weston Forest.

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