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Looking Behind Trump’s Latest Attack on Canada’s Aluminum Exports

2020-08-15 01:05:31
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That didn’t take long. The new trade deal between Canada, the United States and Mexico was barely a month old when President Trump, during a tour of a Whirlpool appliance factory, announced that he’d again placed tariffs on aluminum from Canada.

Canada, in turn, will impose retaliatory tariffs on Sunday against a wide variety of things made from aluminum in the United States, although there is no sign the countermeasure will prompt a retreat by Mr. Trump.

Last week, many Canada Letter readers emailed questions about the president’s latest move, and several offered scathing opinions about it.

I put some of your questions to Chad P. Brown, an economist and trade analyst at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Maybe yes, if you wanted to feel like you should be special and not be mistreated this way. But if you’re like, “We should just be treated like everybody else,” well, you’re being treated no better, no worse than other countries.

There are good arguments that you should be treated better. But, unfortunately, this is the Trump administration’s approach.

Are there big political gains for President Trump heading up to November in picking on Canada? It’s hard to see how that would be.

If anything, this is a way that he’s differentiating himself from [former] Vice President Biden. Joe Biden has indicated he would work more closely with allies on trade issues.

There are certainly political gains to picking on China, to be seen as being be tough on China.

The underlying trade issue with aluminum is Chinese overcapacity.

That being said, there’s nothing in the trade agreement between the Trump administration and China tackling the subsidies problem.


A native of Windsor, Ontario, Ian Austen was educated in Toronto, lives in Ottawa and has reported about Canada for The New York Times for the past 16 years. Follow him on Twitter at @ianrausten.

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