Central Nova MP Sean Fraser condemned President Donald Trump’s plan for steep tariffs on steel and aluminum exports as “unacceptable,” Friday.
His comments came one day after Trump threatened to slap a 25 per cent tariff on all foreign steel and 10 per cent on aluminum, a move that could seriously hurt Canadian jobs and trigger a trade war.
Such tariffs could be imposed as early as next week and last for an unspecified but long time, warned Trump.
“Any trade restrictions on steel and aluminum are entirely unacceptable,” said Fraser.
His remarks echo those of Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who warned that Ottawa would impose its own measures if Canadian steel and aluminum producers are not exempted from any new tariffs.
Fraser said that trade restrictions would not only harm Canadian workers, but also disrupt the Canadian and American supply chain for both metals, which are highly integrated.
Any disruption will lead to job losses on both sides of the border, as well as higher prices for American consumers.
However, Fraser did not know what the local impact of any trade war on Pictou County’s economy would look like.
“I think it would be premature to stoke fears on the local impact of something that is not fully understood,” Fraser told The News.
The United Steelworkers union have also called for Canada to be exempt from any American import tariffs.
Trump’s tariff plan is in keeping with his protectionist trade platform and promise to bring back jobs he says were “stolen” by other countries’ unfair trade practices.
If Trump has his way, they will be imposed under a law known as ‘Section 232,’ which allows the president to impose restrictions on any import that threatens national security.
“The evidence is clear that Canadian steel and aluminum imports are not part of the problem that the U.S. administration is trying to address through its Section 232 investigation,” said USW National Director Ken Neumann in a release Thursday.
The USW says that Section 232 is aimed against “bad actor” countries that carry out illegal dumping and unfair trade practices. Countries notable for such practices include China, Turkey, Egypt and Vietnam, among others.
By contrast, the USW says that Canada is a key U.S. ally that does not engage in such practices.
Indeed, the two countries share close military and intelligence ties as well as trading links.
“Canada is not the problem,” said USW International president Leo W. Gerard in the same release.
The European Union has also threatened its own trade countermeasures if tariffs are imposed.