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Morneau says Canada ‘prepared to react’ against U.S. tariffs if necessary


After US President Donald Trump announced a proposal to impose hefty rates on imports of steel and aluminum, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Canada would be ready to take reprisals if necessary.

"Canada is an integral part of the steel and aluminum supply chain in North America," Morneau told CTV Question Period host Evan Solomon.

"We have clearly stated that this is important to maintain the ability to trade back and forth … And of course we will be firm." We are going to say that this is not an acceptable opportunity for us to set tariffs for an important raw material such as steel and aluminum. "

Trump announced the proposed rates on Thursday, setting a 25 percent rate on imported steel and a 10 percent rate on imported aluminum. Canada is the largest supplier of both metals to the US, with $ 15 billion a year in combined sales.

Morneau said that the first approach of the liberal government is to state its position on the issue. If that does not succeed the government of Trump, Morneau added: "We have clearly said that we are willing to respond."

"I spoke with Minister of Finance (Steven) Mnuchin this week to give him our opinion," Morneau explained. "He clearly understood, so we will continue to work to ensure that all people involved in this decision end up with what we hope will be the right answer."

Morneau did not provide details on possible retaliatory measures. He also rejected the national security reasons of the US government to impose tariffs, saying they would "harm" both Americans and US companies.

"We will remind them that we do not think that a trade war is in one's best future, interests, and we do not want to be forced to respond, but of course we do that when we have to," he added. "We are doing our best to ensure that we draw the right conclusion, namely to exempt Canada from this action."

Scheer warns against retaliation

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer criticized the liberal government for including nothing in their recent budget to buffer the effects of a potential trade war.

"We now have a lot of trouble with our trading partner and I believe this government should do more," Scheer told the CTV Demand Period.

"We have not seen a single paragraph or fund or any other signal in the budget that there would be an emergency plan if NAFTA were to come out of the rails or if these other irritating trade products were to come."

The 2018 budget, added Scheer, "not to treat this kind of trade matters seriously" and did not include anything to make Canada "a more attractive place to invest".

Such measures, he said, could have come in the form of lower tax rates or regulatory r

Scheer also said he would have liked the government to give more reach to American companies dependent on Canadian trade to put pressure on the American government.

"If investors around the world and within the United States do not see Canada as a place where they are fighting to come in, we have fewer votes in the United States that put pressure on the administration to keep that border open. "he explained.

Scheer also warned against imposing retaliatory measures in the aftermath of potential steel and aluminum tariffs.

"We must understand that any escalation in a trade struggle also damages our own economy," he said. "So if we are charging tariffs for things we import from the US that increases costs and damages our economy, so we have to be very careful, which is not the preferred option."

View the demand period on Sunday morning on CTV, CTV News Channel, CTVNews.ca and CTV News GO at 11 am ET, 10 am CT, 9 am MT and 8 am PT

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