He has found an easy target in two of Canada’s exports, claiming that dairy products and softwood lumber pose “unfair” competition to US producers. And he has imposed tariffs of up to 24 percent on Canadian softwood lumber, triggering outrage from Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau (in illustration above with Trump).
I can’t figure out why Trump thinks the Canadian exports are “unfair.” As usual, his justification for the lumber tariffs is incoherent and fact-free. And from what I can find out, it seems America’s dairy farmers are victims of their own unmanaged overproduction, not competition from Canada.
But ranting against Canadian exports wins Trump support among American producers and plays well with his low-information base.
His attack on Canada is an ominous prelude to upcoming NAFTA negotiations. I fear there’s more of Trump’s protectionist aggression ahead.
Trump doesn’t care about the impact on consumers. A trade war with Canada would inevitably create cost-of-living increases in both countries.
As you might expect, the US is by far Canada’s biggest export market but did you know Canada is also America’s number-one global customer? Indeed, the US actually enjoys a trade surplus with Canada, with sales of $337.3 billion compared with imports of $325.4 billion. Canada is the most important foreign market for 35 US states. And exports to Canada produce an estimated 1.7 million US jobs.
Obviously, both economies would suffer from a trade war.
But that’s how Trump has chosen to operate. He is threatening to impose punitive tariffs not only on Canada but also on Mexico and China, risking trade wars that would damage economic growth and kill jobs around the world.
Sadly, Trump’s election is proving to be a global disaster, not just a tragedy for Americans.