Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau considers retaliation on US in response to tariffs

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is engaging in a bit of saber-rattling. He’s considering a declaration of war against the United States — an economic war.

In response to President Donald Trump‘s announcement of a 20 percent tariff on Canadian lumber products, Trudeau said Canada is considering the ban of U.S. thermal coal shipments.

Screenshots of U.S. President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Trump’s lumber tariff was in response to Canada’s 2016 subsidy that priced Canadian dairy products below cost, leaving foreign exporters such as Wisconsin’s cheese manufacturers, out in the cold.

Trudeau announced the possibility of rejecting U.S. coal shipments in a letter to British Columbia Premier Christy Clark.

“The Government of Canada is considering this request carefully and seriously. I have asked federal trade officials to further examine the request to inform our government’s next steps,” Trudeau’s letter said, according to Bloomberg. “We disagree strongly with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s decision to impose an unfair and punitive duty on Canadian softwood lumber products.”

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg that Canada’s threats won’t influence the White House’s decision on tariffs, and called its warnings of “retaliatory action are inappropriate.”

Ross added that “We continue to believe that a negotiated settlement is in the best interests of all parties.”

If Trudeau expected sympathy from other countries, he was disappointed. Both Australian and New Zealand officials sided with Trump on the dispute — not Trudeau.

“I don’t expect there would be many countries that would do anything other than support a [World Trade Organization] action against Canada,” Australian Dairy Farmers interim Chief Executive Officer John McQueen said, according to the Financial Post.

New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay also raised concern with the Canadian government, and said his government was “currently assessing the WTO-consistency” of Canada’s dairy industry policy, the Post reported.

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