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Canada warns it will ‘respond appropriately to defend jobs’ if US steel tariffs take effect

The tariffs had been suspended while the US, Mexico and Canada tried to rework Nafta, but talks on the pact have stalled

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 May, 2018, 2:47am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 May, 2018, 10:40pm

Canada will “respond appropriately” to any US steel and aluminium tariffs, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland warned on Wednesday, less than two days before the punitive measures are scheduled to kick in.

US President Donald Trump announced the tariffs in March but later suspended them until June 1 to give the United States, Mexico and Canada time to push ahead with negotiations to rework the North American Free Trade Agreement. Talks on the pact have stalled, however.

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“The government is absolutely prepared to - and will defend - Canadian industries and Canadian jobs. We will respond appropriately,” Freeland told reporters in Ottawa when asked about possible US action.

Canadian government officials have said they are prepared to impose retaliatory tariffs should the Trump administration make a move but have not revealed what they have in mind.

Trump says the steel and aluminium tariffs would be imposed for security reasons, which Freeland said was “frankly absurd”. Canada has repeatedly rejected any suggestion it could be a threat to the United States.

Freeland spoke after returning from Washington, where she met US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to discuss Nafta. The negotiation “will take as long as it takes to get a good deal”, she said.