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

Canadian mini-series set to shoot in the Comox Valley

St. Joseph’s General Hospital will soon be shining brightly on the small… Continue reading

RCMP investigate sexual assault in Courtenay

Comox Valley RCMP officers are investigating a reported sexual assault at Sandwick… Continue reading

Comox Strathcona Waste Management board approves tour of Nova Scotia advanced recycling plant

Three CVRD representatives will tour Sustane Tech. plant while in Halifax for FCM conference

Comox opts for ‘blank sheet’ when it comes to cannabis bylaw

Comox council unanimously approved a bylaw to prohibit the sale of cannabis within the town.

Lack of security: why Vancouver Island food production is on the decline

Big Read: agriculture a big, expensive commitment as advocates push to make us more food secure

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

CONTEST: Win a whale-watching tour for four

Where in the world are the Snowbirds?

Dix says B.C. remains focused on fighting youth overdoses in wake of teen’s death

Elliot Eurchuk’s parents say he died at his Oak Bay home after taking street drugs

Final week for ALR input

Public consultation process closes April 30

‘When everybody leaves: Counselling key to help Humboldt move on after bus crash

Dealing with life after a tragedy can be the worst part following a loss

Half-naked shooter guns down four, runs away in Nashville Waffle House shooting

Nashville police say they are looking for Travis Reinking in connection with the shooting

Child’s body found in river downstream from where boy went missing during flood

Three-year-old Kaden Young was swept out of his mother’s arms in February

B.C. VIEWS: Eliminating efficiency for farm workers

Don’t worry, NDP says, the B.C. economy’s booming

B.C. student makes short-list for autism advocacy award

Brody Butts honoured for his role as a mentor and self-advocate

Most Read