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Canada Responds To Steel Tariffs By Imposing Dollar-For-Dollar Tariffs On U.S. Goods


The U.S. is not only in a trade fight with the European Union but also with allies closer to home. Mexico and Canada are both disappointed by the new aluminum and steel tariffs. The Canadians have promised to retaliate.


Today President Trump tweeted, Canada has treated our agricultural business and farmers very poorly for a very long period of time. And he went on. They must open their markets and take down their trade barriers.

CORNISH: North Country Public Radio's Brian Mann is in the Canadian capital Ottawa this afternoon. Brian, tell us. What is the reaction there so far?

BRIAN MANN, BYLINE: Well, first, Audie, there's a lot of anger specifically over the fact that President Trump invoked national security as a justification for these tariffs. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talked about the fact that the two countries' militaries have fought together since the first world war and in fact are still on battlefields together right now.


PRIME MINISTER JUSTIN TRUDEAU: That Canada could be considered a national security threat to the United States is inconceivable. These tariffs will harm industry and workers on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border.

CORNISH: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau there - Brian, you've also been speaking with just regular citizens - right? - on both sides of the border. On the U.S. side, what have you heard?

MANN: Well, there's a lot of skepticism I think in these industrial towns that a trade war with Canada is the solution to the Rust Belt economies and sagging mill towns. But there's also a lot of desperation. And some people describe this as kind of a Hail Mary move. I spoke with Nancy Wells in Massena, N.Y., where Alcoa still has an aluminum plant.

NANCY WELLS: It would be really great if this trade did good for Alcoa because Massena needs the work.

MANN: Have you seen Massena kind of fade over the years?

WELLS: We've been here - coming up here for 30 years. And yes, a lot of work has left the area. It's really gone bad.

MANN: And I should say that Nancy Wells told me she doesn't actually like Donald Trump very much, but she likes this decision and this action.

CORNISH: From Massena, N.Y., you crossed to Cornwall, Ontario. What did you hear there?

MANN: Well, it's another border town with an economy that's deeply intertwined with neighbors in the U.S. - you know, family ties across this border, workers who cross every day in both directions to get to work. Companies have supply chains that are completely fluid from one nation to the other. I spoke with Jerry Wagner outside a Lowe's hardware store.

JERRY WAGNER: It will definitely affect Canadians greatly. We trade heavily with the United States. Steel and aluminum are major exports for us to the United States. So...

MANN: How about you personally?

WAGNER: I assume it will definitely. I sometimes do cross-border shopping. Goods that I buy here will, granted, become more expensive with the tariffs that are imposed to equal out the ones that they have imposed.

CORNISH: So where does this go from here?

MANN: Well, Canadians are preparing to implement their own retaliatory tariffs. But one other thing officials are talking about here in Ottawa is that they're hoping U.S. governors and members of Congress will jump hard into this fight pressuring the White House to reconsider this trade war. Already some Republican lawmakers along the U.S.-Canada border have made it clear that they really hate where this is going. Northern New York alone has more than 10,000 jobs relying on trade across this border. So, you know, there's a lot of uncertainty now about how those companies will operate.

CORNISH: That's Brian Mann of North Country Public Radio. Brian, thank you.

MANN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Brian Mann