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Deputy Prime Minister’s remarks for aluminum tariff response

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Hello everyone, and thank you for being here today and being on the phone.

Let me start by saying how much I regret that Canada is once again dealing with a US trade action aimed at the Canadian aluminum industry and Canadian aluminum workers.

At a time when we are fighting a global pandemic, working on both sides of the Canada-US border to prevent loss of life and preserve jobs, a trade dispute is the last thing anyone needs.

It will only hurt the economic recovery on both sides of the border.

However, this is what the US administration has chosen to do.

Canada’s position on tariffs today is exactly what it was in June 2018, when the last round of unwarranted US 232 tariffs were imposed.

These tariffs are unnecessary, unwarranted, and entirely unacceptable. They should not be imposed.

Let me be clear: Canadian aluminum is in no way a threat to US national security, which remains the ostensible reason for these tariffs and that is a ludicrous notion.

On the contrary, Canadian aluminum is essential for US industry, including the US defence industry.

Canada has, for decades, been a reliable supplier of aluminum for US value-added manufacturers.

Aluminum trade between Canada and the United States is mutually beneficial for both of our countries, and it makes our interconnected North American aluminum industry more competitive around the world.

In imposing these tariffs, the United States has taken the absurd decision to harm its own people at a time when its economy is suffering the deepest crisis since the Great Depression. Any American who buys a can of beer or a soda, or a car or a bike, will suffer.

In fact, the very washing machines manufactured at the Whirlpool plant where the President made his announcement yesterday will become more expensive for Americans and less competitive with machines produced elsewhere in the world as a result of these tariffs.

These tariffs will hurt American consumers and they will hurt American workers.

Furthermore, with the new NAFTA having come into force on July 1st, now is the time to advance North American economic competitiveness — not to hinder it. Through robust, new rules of origin for automobiles, the new NAFTA ensures that 70 per cent of the aluminum purchased by North American automakers needs to be produced in North America.

These tariffs will make it harder for the North American carmakers NAFTA is designed to support.

The Canadian aluminum industry is important to Canada’s economy. It provides approximately 10,000 jobs in primary production. It supports tens of thousands further jobs in downstream industries.

Our government will always defend our aluminum industry and Canadian workers. As we did during the NAFTA negotiations, we will take a Team Canada approach. I have been and will continue to work closely with leaders of the provinces and territories, and with industry and labour. I would like to thank them all for their strong defence of the Canadian national interest and I look forward to continuing to work closely together.

We stood up for Canadian workers during the negotiations of the new NAFTA. We stood up for them during the last round of US trade actions, and we will stand up for them now.

In response to these unwarranted tariffs, Canada will respond swiftly and strongly in defence of our workers. We will impose dollar-for-dollar countermeasures in a balanced and perfectly reciprocal retaliation.

We will not escalate and we will not back down.

Following yesterday’s announcement by the United States, the Prime Minister has decided to launch consultations on a broad and extensive list of aluminum-containing products.

We invite Canadians and Canadian businesses to participate in these consultations over the next 30 days, after which we will impose retaliatory tariffs.

And now I’m happy to take your questions.

Thank you.