WATCH: Canada – Trump’s Latest International Trade Punching Bag
While signing an executive order mandating an investigation of dumped steel, President Donald Trump took a detour to bash the United States’ largest trading partner, Canada.
“I was in Wisconsin the other day,” Trump said, at the executive order signing ceremony, “and I want to end and add by saying that Canada, what they’ve done to our dairy farm workers is a disgrace. It’s a disgrace. I spent time with some of the farmers in Wisconsin, and, as you know, rules, regulations, different things have changed. And our farmers in Wisconsin and New York State are being put out of business, our dairy farmers.”
Trump was referring to a new Canadian policy that gives incentivizes that country’s producers to buy domestic ultra-filtered milk, an ingredient used in cheese and yogurt production. US producers say the policy violates NAFTA. The US enjoys a $400 million annual surplus in dairy trade with Canada.
Trump went on to say, “And that also includes what’s happening along our northern border states with Canada, having to do with lumber and timber.”
Here, Trump is probably referring to a longstanding trade dispute between the US and Canada on Canadian exports of softwood lumber to the US. It’s one of the biggest and longlasting trade disputes in history, and is currently the subject of Commerce Department anti-dumping and countervailing duty processes.
Trump then went on to slam NAFTA. “The fact is, NAFTA — whether it’s Mexico or Canada — is a disaster for our country,” he said. “It’s a disaster. It’s a trading disaster. And we’ll be reporting back sometime over the next two weeks as to NAFTA and what we’re going to do about it.”
The actual purpose of the gathering was for the president to sign an executive order with respect to steel dumping. According to the White House, imports of steel into the US grew by 19.6 percent between February 2016 and February 2017.
Trump’s presidential memorandum directed the Secretary of Commerce to expedite an existing investigation on the effects of steel imports on national security. The investigation is to determine whether steel imports cause US workers to lose jobs which are needed to meet security requirements; any negative effects of steel imports on government revenue; and any harm steel imports cause to the economic welfare of the US.
The investigation is to be concluded and a report submitted within 270 days.
“If the report concludes that steel imports threaten to impair national security, and the president concurs,” a White House statement noted, “he may take several actions, including tariffs, to eliminate the negative effects of steel imports on the national security of the United States.”