In this Feb. 28, 2018 photo, President Donald Trump pauses during a meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, in Washington, with members of congress to discuss school and community safety. A White House official says President Donald Trump plans to announce Thursday whether he’ll impose tariffs or quotas on steel and aluminum imports. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

UPDATE: Trump promises big tariffs on steel, aluminum; impact on Canada still unclear

A White House official says President Donald Trump will announce whether he’ll impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports

U.S. President Donald Trump has declared his intention to impose sweeping tariffs on steel and aluminum, with potentially wide-ranging implications for the global economy, not to mention cross-border uncertainty.

After a suspense-filled few weeks the president released some details about his plans Thursday: a 25 per cent tariff on steel, and a 10 per cent tariff on aluminum, numbers in both cases higher than expected.

“We’ll be signing it next week,” Trump told a gathering of industry leaders. “And you’ll have protection for a long time.”

One major unknown lingers: Whether Canada is on the list. While the tariffs are primarily billed as targeting China, the numbers Trump cited sound ominously similar to what had been billed as the worst-case scenario for Canada: his administration had said it was contemplating a massive global tariff on a few countries that sell dumped steel, or something around 24 per cent for the entire world.

Related: Trump considers global steel tariffs, potentially hitting Canada

Canada is the No. 1 supplier of both steel and aluminum to the U.S.

Trump technically has until next month to make a decision. But he was eager to impose the broadest possible tariffs, and itching to make an announcement. News reports claimed the administration was scrambling behind the scenes, trying to get the details finalized, with some officials urging him to put off a decision.

Trump has received multiple pleas to spare Canada.

The Pentagon has published a letter urging him not to target allies. During consultations, witness after witness urged the government to make a special exception for Canada. The well-connected United Steelworkers union has members in both countries — it’s even led by a Canadian, Leo Gerard, who is urging the administration to leave his home and native land alone.

“To put Canada in the same boat as Mexico, or China, or India, or South Korea … doesn’t make sense,” Gerard said in an interview.

“Canada should just be excluded — period. We have an integrated economy. And if it gets undone, America will pay a heavy price…. In every opportunity I’ve had I’ve tried to point out to the key decision-makers that Canada is not the problem when it comes to international trade — and to do something that would sideswipe Canada would disadvantage (the U.S.).”

Related: ‘Canada does not treat us right’ says Trump

Canada exported about C$9.3 billion of aluminum to the U.S. last year, and C$5.5 billion of steel. For the U.S., Canadian steel represented an important share of imports, at just over 15 per cent of overall imports. For Canada, the U.S. meant almost everything in its export picture — almost 90 per cent of Canadian steel exports went south.

The issue goes well beyond North America.

Several trade experts have warned that such loose use of a national-security exemption invites others to do the same, and could lead to a domino effect of reprisals. Mexico and Europe are already threatening counter-tariffs.

In a piece for Forbes, trade analyst Dan Ikenson warned of what could be at stake.

“Where exactly (this) leads is anyone’s guess, but it is certain to be a place less stable, less predictable, and less co-operative than the place we are right now,” said Ikenson, of the pro-trade libertarian Cato Institute.

“The more modest the restrictions, the less the collateral damage. But the bottom line is that once Trump opens a Pandora’s box by rationalizing protectionism as a national security imperative, the durability of the rules based trading system will be tested like never before, with global economic security hanging in the balance.”

Alexander Panetta, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Pursuit with rogue semi ends in arrest

RCMP chased a stolen semi tractor from Red Deer to Airdrie

Full weekend to celebrate NexSource Centre’s first birthday

April 6-7 will be jam-packed with action and excitement at the NexSource Centre

Umpires needed in Sylvan Lake and Central Alberta

A training clinic will be held in Red Deer in April

Alberta’s budget sets path to balance

The Alberta Government announced the 2018 budget on March 22

Three-year collective agreement reached for Lodge employees

Highlights include wage increases and more evenly distributed on-call work

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

Canadian cities hold March for our Lives events in wake of Florida shooting

Hundreds of people support the massive March for Our Lives event in Washington, D.C.

Embattled band Hedley plays last show before hiatus

About 3,000 tickets had sold for final performance at B.C. venue

Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond wins figure skating world title

The 22-year-old won the women’s singles crown with her Black Swan routine

Calgary police investigate man posing as Calgary firefighter

Calgary police are looking for information on a suspect who stole a firefighter’s ID

Alberta tells B.C. to stop opposing pipelines if it doesn’t like gas prices

John Horgan said he would like to see the federal government step in to deal with high gas prices.

Uber self-driving crash video calls safety, rules into question

Experts say footage shows that vehicle’s sensors should have spotted pedestrian, initiated braking

Bashaw RCMP arrest man wanted in several crimes

Variety of criminal charges, including vehicle theft, facing-29-year-old man caught in Alix

Valuable rings stolen out of car in Thorsby Mar. 22

Thorsby/Breton RCMP seek to recover special stolen items

Most Read