The federal Liberal government is taking its cross-border trade dispute with the United States up a notch, unveiling an extensive final list of $16.6-billion worth of American imports that will be hit with retaliatory tariffs this weekend.
Ottawa also released details Friday of a financial aid package for industries and workers caught in the crossfire — and it includes up to $2 billion in fresh funding and loans for Canada’s steel, aluminum and manufacturing sectors.
“It is with regret that we take these countermeasures, but the U.S. tariffs leave Canada no choice but to defend our industries, our workers and our communities, and we will remain firm in doing so,” Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement.
She unveiled the details — including a finished list of U.S. products on Canada’s hit list, which takes effect Sunday — during a news conference at a steel factory in Hamilton.
“The real solution to this unfortunate and unprecedented dispute,” she said, ”is for the United States to rescind its tariffs on our steel and aluminum.”
Aside from reciprocal tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the U.S., the items to be subject to 10 per cent duties come from a wide range of sectors — from ketchup, to lawn mowers, to playing cards.
It’s all part of Ottawa’s plan to strike back at the U.S. in response to hefty steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump several weeks ago.
The government’s decision to stand up to Trump by striking back with countermeasures has attracted wide support in Canada — but domestic businesses, particularly those in the steel sector, have expressed deep concerns about any escalation in the trade battle.
More broadly, the effects of the trade fight are expected to hurt both economies, which includes putting jobs at risk and potentially raising consumer prices on both sides of the border.
The federal support package is similar to the one offered by Ottawa last year in response U.S. duties on softwood lumber products from Canada.
For the latest dispute, the government intends to help affected workers by extending the duration of work-sharing agreements under the employment insurance program by an additional 38 weeks. The aim is to help businesses retain skilled workers and avoid layoffs during any rough patches ahead.
Ottawa is also promising to boost funding for the provinces and territories to increase job and training programs, and to provide liquidity support for impacted businesses.
Through its strategic innovation fund, Ottawa is also offering up to $250 million in support in an effort to reinforce the competitiveness of Canadian manufacturers and strengthen the integration of Canada’s steel and aluminum supply chain.
The government also plans to invest $50 million over five years to help firms take full advantage of recent trade agreements, including Canada’s deal with the European Union and its membership in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The funding will feature new grants.
The federal government also reiterated Friday that it has taken steps and introduced safeguards to address concerns about diversion and dumping of products into the Canadian market.
Last week, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross expressed concerns about the world’s overproduction and overcapacity of steel, saying the U.S. tariffs against Canada and other allies are designed to force them into action.
Freeland has long insisted that Canada introduced stronger safeguards on steel well before the U.S. imposed the tariffs.
She said the measures were put in place not only to ensure Canada is a good trading partner, but primarily to protect Canada’s own national interest by keeping Chinese steel and aluminum from being dumped into the market.
The Canadian Press