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Editorial: Tariffs and Trumpspeak

U.S. President Donald Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump - Submitted

As we stumble into trade actions and retaliations that neither the U.S. nor anyone else needs, it’s hard not blame President Donald Trump’s peculiar and one-sided economic views.

The latest round of tariffs from Trump on steel and aluminum products are going down very poorly world-wide.

The European Union tried a wake-up call to Republicans, targeting retaliatory tariffs against products from Republican states: Harley-Davidson motorcycles and bourbon felt the bite of new tariffs. Canada’s latest tariff retaliation did the same thing, targeting products from the home states of senior Republicans Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan.

Republicans may be aware of the damage being caused to trade between our countries, but Trump hasn’t apparently noticed. (Maybe he would if countries affected by his new tariffs brought in taxes specifically on foreign-owned golf course and management fees for foreign-branded hotels.)

Canadian newsprint has already been hit with new tariffs: it’s only a matter of time until fish products get targeted, too. All it would really take is for someone in the U.S. to get Trump’s ear and complain that fish imports were hurting them.

Trump has already made statements that clearly show he has no idea what he’s talking about when it comes to this country. For example, he Tweeted on Friday: “Canada has treated our Agricultural business and Farmers very poorly for a very long period of time. Highly restrictive on Trade! They must open their markets and take down their trade barriers!”

In fact, the United States Department of Agriculture begs to differ.

“Canada is the leading agricultural trade partner of the United States, when exports and imports are combined. In 2015, Canada accounted for 16 per cent of U.S. agricultural exports and 19 per cent of imports,” the USDA wrote in a trade report in April.

And those tariff barriers that Trump is going on about?

“From 1989 to 1998, (the Canada-U.S Trade Agreement) and (the North American Free Trade Agreement) dismantled virtually all tariff and quota barriers to Canada-U.S. agricultural trade, with a few notable exceptions: U.S. imports of dairy products, peanuts, peanut butter, cotton, sugar, and sugar-containing products and Canadian imports of dairy products, poultry, eggs, and margarine.”

Highly restrictive? Hardly.

Saturday, Trump argued that the “many billions of dollars that the tariffs we are now charging are, and will be, pouring into U.S. coffers.” Apparently, he doesn’t even realize that a substantial portion of those tariffs will paid by American customers on increased prices for tariff-laden products — perhaps we could just call it the Trump Tariff Tax.

Clearly, facts don’t matter to the U.S. president.

It’s time to take as much of our business elsewhere as we possibly can, to forge even better links with the other countries Trump is targeting. America’s president is an economic wrecking ball, signaling that country is closed for business.

Read more editorials here.

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