U.S. President Donald Trump is blasting Canada – and threatening its lumber industry – a day after starting a trade war with his neighbours to the north.
Mr. Trump took to Twitter Friday morning to falsely claim that Canada has a “really high” trade surplus with the U.S.; according to the U.S.’s own numbers, Canada actually ran an $8.4-billion trade deficit with the U.S. last year.
“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!” the President tweeted. “They report a really high surplus on trade with us. Do Timber & Lumber in U.S.?”
The President on Thursday hit steel and aluminium from Canada, Mexico and the European Union with tariffs of 25 per cent and 10 per cent respectively. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau fired back with tariffs on $16.6-billion worth of U.S. products, from beer kegs to pizza to coffee.
Canada’s retaliation list included numerous American agricultural products, including cucumbers, yogurt and some types of beef.
Mr. Trump has also long complained about Canada’s protectionist supply-management system for dairy, eggs and poultry. The system levies hefty tariffs on imported products to protect Canadian producers.
Canadian softwood lumber already faces U.S. tariffs, which the Trump administration imposed last year. It was not immediately clear what other actions Mr. Trump was considering taking against Canadian-produced wood products.
Relations between Canada and the U.S. are at a nadir, with the two countries girding for their most serious trade war in recent memory.
The two countries, along with Mexico, are also renegotiating the North American free-trade agreement (NAFTA), which Mr. Trump accuses of moving jobs out of the U.S. Canada and Mexico made repeated proposals to wrap up negotiations over the last month, all of which were turned down by Mr. Trump.
The President has repeatedly accused Canada of cheating the U.S. on trade over the last year, accusing Canadian leaders of being “very smooth” because they have “outsmarted our politicians for many years” and been “very rough” on the U.S.
On Thursday, Mr. Trudeau revealed that he had offered to come to the White House this week to hash out NAFTA with the President. But the meeting was scuttled after Vice-President Mike Pence told him Canada would have to agree to add a sunset clause to NAFTA – a provision that would automatically terminate the deal in five years unless all three countries agreed to extend it – as a condition of sitting down with Mr. Trump.
Late Thursday, the White House said the U.S. had delivered a stark message to Mr. Trudeau.
“The United States has been taken advantage of for many decades on trade. Those days are over,” Mr. Trump said in a statement. “Earlier today, this message was conveyed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada: The United State will agree to a fair deal, or there will be no deal at all.”
He was less verbose earlier in the day on Twitter.
“FAIR TRADE!” he wrote.