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

Report shows Saanich police officer retroactively fired over corruption, deceit, relationship with sex worker

Saanich Police had six of eight substantiated allegations against officers in Greater Victoria

Head of Greater Victoria builders critical of stricter climate policy

Casey Edge says Step Code will raise cost of housing without addressing climate change

Esquimalt Rec Centre pool goes to the dogs

The inaugural “Dog Swim” happens before the pool is closed for maintenance

Oak Bay police officer fired after hiring sex trade worker, watchdog says

Report by police watchdog shows Oak Bay police officers faced discipline for misconduct

Police, prosecutors tight-lipped about legislature investigation

Craig James and Gary Lenz were removed from the B.C. Legislature by police on Tuesday

Feds give formal notice for law to end Canada Post strike

Trudeau government ready to legislate employees back to work after five weeks of rotating strikes

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 20

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Getzlaf lifts Ducks to 4-3 win over skidding Canucks

Vancouver now winless since Nov. 8

POLL: Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?

The Christmas lights are twinkling and holiday music is playing in local… Continue reading

Pressure builds for B.C. to recognize physicians assistants

“We can make a difference and I think we’re being overlooked.”

Paramedic treated accused killer at the scene of Chemainus murder

Described strange behaviour of man with minor injuries

Senators urge Trump to expedite congressional vote on USMCA

The 12 Republican senators are warning of the dangers of getting the trade pact approved in 2019

Bill just one tool to deter foreign interference in Canadian elections: Gould

Bill C-76 is just one means to deter outside interference in Canadian elections

Investigation into B.C. legislature officers began in January

RCMP brought in months after former prison administrator started

Most Read