TORONTO.- Canada announced billions of dollars in retaliatory tariffs against the U.S. on Friday in a tit for tat response to the Trump administration’s duties on Canadian steel and aluminum. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government released the final list of items that will be targeted beginning July 1. Some items will be subject to taxes of 10 or 25 percent.
“We will not escalate and we will not back down,” Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said. The taxes on items including ketchup, lawn mowers and motor boats amount to $12.6 billion. “This is a perfectly reciprocal action,” Freeland said. “It is a dollar for dollar response.” Freeland said they had no other choice and called the tariffs regrettable.
Many of the U.S. products were chosen for their political rather than economic impact. For example, Canada imports just $3 million worth of yogurt from the U.S. annually and most of it comes from one plant in Wisconsin, the home state of House Speaker Paul Ryan. The product will now be hit with a 10 percent duty.
Another product on the list is whiskey, which comes from Tennessee and Kentucky, the latter of which is the home state of Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell. Freeland also said they are prepared if U.S. President Donald Trump escalates the trade war.
“It is absolutely imperative that common sense should prevail,” she said. “Having said that our approach from day one of the NAFTA negotiations has been to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.” Trump has explained the steel and aluminum tariffs by saying imported metals threatened the United States’ national security — a justification that countries rarely use because it can be so easily abused. He is also threatening to impose another national security-based tariff on imported cars, trucks and auto parts.