OTTAWA / WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Canada struck down US steel and aluminum tariffs on Friday with the Trump government, promising to impose US $ 16.6 billion in punitive measures against US goods.
The Retribution As General Motors Co warned that any tariffs Washington could impose on imported vehicles could cost US jobs, and Finance Minister Steve Mnuchin denied a report that President Donald Trump was leaving the World Trade Organization.
Rising trade tensions between Canada and the United States and pushing back US companies for additional tariffs, including on imported cars, have put pressure on a White House, which has been an "America First." Since Trump took office in January 2017 "represents protectionist attitude. Mnuchin lashed out against a report on the Axios News Web site stating that Trump often told consultants that he wanted to strip the US from the WTO, a move that could destroy global trade. The report cited persons involved in talks with the president.
"That's an exaggeration," Mnuchin said. "The President was clear … he has concerns about the WTO, he thinks there are aspects that are not fair, he thinks that China and others have used it to their advantage, but we focus on free trade. That's what we're focusing on – breaking down barriers. "
Canada's retaliatory tariffs, which come into force on July 1, are aimed primarily at US steel and aluminum products, as well as foods such as coffee, ketchup and whiskey from Canada's Treasury department.
"We will not escalate and we will not give in," said Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland to reporters at a plant owned by Stelco Holdings Inc in the steel town of Hamilton, Ontario.
The measures are aimed at putting Trump under pressure by focusing on goods from states where his Republican party is fighting to hold congressional elections in the November House elections. They were announced when America's largest automaker warned that too broad tariffs could isolate US companies and cut jobs.
The Trump government launched an investigation in May on whether imported vehicles pose a threat to national security. Trump has repeatedly threatened an import duty of 20 percent on vehicles.
In comments filed with the US Department of Commerce, GM said that expansive tariffs "could lead to a smaller General Motors, a reduced presence at home and abroad for this iconic American company and less – not more – US Risk jobs. "  GM, which produces many vehicles for the US market in Mexico and Canada, said tariffs could increase vehicle prices and reduce sales.
Even if carmakers decide not to pass on the higher costs to consumers, "it could still lead to less investment, fewer jobs, and lower wages for our employees – the carry-on effect of less investment and one smaller workforce could delay breakthrough technologies, "said GM.
Canada's Freeland called the idea of car fares "absolutely absurd". US officials have joined the tariffs with slow progress in talks on the modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which, according to Trump, is a disaster and needs to be changed.
($ 1 = $ 1,3141 Canadian Dollars)
Additional coverage by David Shepardson, David Lawder, Steve Holland and Patricia Zengerle in Washington, and Tom Miles in Geneva, written by Andrea Hopkins; Arrangement by David Gregorio