GM may slash American jobs because of Trump tariffs

01 July, 2018, 11:15 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Conservative MP Maxime Bernier talks with media in Ottawa on Wednesday

There are preparations for the possibility of a drawn-out and escalating dispute.

In addition to Canada, the European Union and Mexico are among those that have announced tariffs on U.S. goods in response.

The United States has a US$2 billion trade surplus on iron and steel products, and Canada buys more American steel than any other country, accounting for 50 per cent of USA exports, Ms Freeland said.

The tariffs will go into effect Sunday.

In Ottawa, Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre blamed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for overspending public dollars and instituting policies that he said help Trump kill jobs in Canada.

Trudeau reportedly reiterated his position to Trump himself in a phone call on Friday.

"The two leaders agreed to stay in close touch on a way forward", it said.

"The overbroad and steep application of import tariffs on our trading partners risks isolating USA businesses like GM from the global market that helps to preserve and grow our strength here at home", the company said.

The decision taken by Canada, Mexico and the European Union comes after President Donald Trump's controversial announcement on trade, which levied 25 percent and 10 percent tariffs on aluminium and steel, respectively.

Jim Watson, a Liberal Party politician serving as Ottawa's mayor since 2010, told reporters Thursday that he's boycotting the USA ambassador's annual Independence Day party over the Trump administration's recent anti-Canadian sentiments. "We are perfectly within our rights to respond".

Trump himself has already threatened to put tariffs on the automotive sector, which could prove far worse for the Canadian economy than the steel and aluminum duties.

In Washington, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association said the tariffs would hit $170 million worth of US beef products.

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"We will not escalate and we will not back down", she added, while urging Washington to reconsider its attack on the Canadian economy, and noting that the response was Ottawa's toughest trade action since World War II.

Ms. Freeland said such a move would be "absolutely absurd". "But I just think, on a principled stand, I have real difficulties with the way the Americans are treating our country and our people and our government".

Canada, Europe and Mexico fear that the Trump administration could next follow through on threats to impose tariffs on automobile imports. "It is a dollar-for-dollar response", Freeland said. The situation means it's now a top priority for stalled NAFTA talks to get moving as soon as possible, he said.

The two countries, with Mexico, are also locked in negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement. "We support that", he said.

About 6,000 jobs in Canada are at risk due to the United States tariffs, the CD Howe Institute has estimated.

The Trump administration has said the tariffs are necessary to protect the steel and aluminium industries, arguing that their success is vital to America's national security. Canada announced that it would be imposing tariffs on more than $12 billion American products.

On this front, Ottawa feels it has more work to do.

Canada continues to work towards full and permanent removal of these unjustified and illegal US tariffs. In particular, the union said employment insurance rules would need to be modified to make it easier for affected workers to qualify and receive benefits for a longer period.

Last year, about 36% of GM's US sales were imported, or about 1.1 million vehicles, according to research firm LMC Automotive.

Ottawa is also promising to boost funding for the provinces and territories to increase job and training programs.

Of the pledged $2 billion, about $1.7 billion is earmarked to help business manage an uncertain financial future.

- Spending up to $250 million to "better integrate the Canadian supply chain of steel and aluminum". Global Affairs Canada will spend $50-million over five years to help Canadian firms diversify their exports.

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