Trudeau lashes out at Trump's 'frankly insulting' steel and aluminium tariffs; Trump administration accuses him of 'overreacting'

NBC NewsCanadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hit back at the Trump administration’s tariffs on steel and aluminium imports during an interview with NBC that aired Sunday, June 3, 2018.
  • In an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hit back at the recent tariffs implemented by President Donald Trump against Canada.
  • Trudeau said that the tariffs are a result of the US believing Canada and its steel and aluminium are a national security threat, but insisted that Canada is not “going to be pushed around.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hit back at the recent tariffs implemented by President Donald Trump against Canada, telling NBC’s Chuck Todd it was “insulting” that the tariffs were imposed under the guise of protecting US national security and that Canada is not “going to be pushed around.”

“The idea that the Canadian steel that’s in military vehicles in the United States, the Canadian aluminium that makes your fighter jets is somehow now a threat?” Trudeau said in his “Meet the Press” interview, which aired Sunday. “The idea that we are somehow a national security threat to the United States is quite frankly insulting and unacceptable.”

The Trump administration had triggered talks of an impending trade war after Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Thursday announced that exemptions from steel and aluminium tariffs on imports from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union would expire on Friday.

Steel imports from those countries will now be subject to a 25% tariff, and aluminium imports will be subject to a 10% tariff. As justification for the move, the Trump administration cited a law that allows tariffs to be imposed on a country in the interests of protecting national security.

Canadian officials have expressed particular frustration with the Trump administration’s actions – and Trudeau wasn’t the only one to speak out on American Sunday shows.

Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland appeared baffled during an interview with CNN, asking how Canada could possibly be perceived as a national-security threat to the US.

“What you are saying to us, and to all of your NATO allies, is that we somehow represent a national security threat to the United States,” Freeland said. “And I would just say to all of Canada’s American friends – and there are so many – seriously? Do you really believe that Canada, that your NATO allies, represent a national security threat to you?”

A ‘family quarrel’

Trudeau also warned his American counterpart that implementing new tariffs won’t just hurt Canada – it will hit America’s labour force as well.

“The fact that the president has moved forward with these tariffs is not just going to hurt Canadian jobs,” Trudeau said. “It’s going to hurt US jobs as well, and neither of those things is something that Canada wants to see.”

Canada announced last week it will impose retaliatory tariffs on $US12.8 billion worth of US goods in response to Trump’s metals tariffs.

“We’re putting the same kinds of tariffs exactly on steel and aluminium coming from the United States into Canada,” Trudeau said. “We’re also putting a number of tariffs on consumer goods, finished products for which Canadians have easy alternatives.”

But the Trump administration sought to downplay Trudeau’s comments on Sunday. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow likened the Trump administration’s dispute with the Canadian government to a “family quarrel” during an interview on Fox News Sunday.

“I think he’s overreacting,” Kudlow said of Trudeau. “I don’t think we’re satisfied yet that they will protect or uphold all the shipments of steel coming into Canada from all around the world … Look, the president has declared our steel industry a national security matter. And he hopes that these actions to rebuild it. There are some early signs that that may be possible.”

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