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Trump re-imposing tariffs on Canadian aluminum is politically motivated: expert

Last Updated Aug 8, 2020 at 12:32 pm EDT

FILE -- Aluminum in a smelter is seen at the Alouette aluminum plant on May 21, 2019 in Sept-Iles, Que. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says as the North American economy gets back up to speed, Canada's aluminum production is returning to normal, negating the argument for American tariffs on imports from north of the border. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
Summary

While the U.S. claims Canada is flooding its market with Canadian aluminum an expert says there's a political component


Legitimate trade concerns may be part of this, a political scientist says the Nov. election could be a primary motivator


VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A political scientist from the Simon Fraser University believes the U.S. imposing a 10 per cent tariff on Canadian aluminum this week relates to the upcoming American election.

U.S. President Donald Trump has accused Canada of breaking a promise not to flood the U.S. market with aluminum, an accusation Canada and its aluminum producers said is completely false.

SFU political scientist Aaron Hoffman says he believes there’s a significant political component in the U.S.’s decision.

“This behaviour helps [Trump] maintain his reputation as someone who was going to send U.S. economic interests, even if it means ruffling the feathers of close allies like Canada,” he says.

As we move closer to the U.S. election in November, there’s an appetite for Trump to emphasize to voters that he will defend American economic interests in Hoffman’s view.

Hoffman says Trump is trying to establish a particular position for himself, but he acknowledges the payoff might not be particularly significant.

“Americans don’t do a lot of voting on foreign policy. They do some, but typically it’s on really high profile issues like wars and, Americans getting killed, real big acts of terrorism.”

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On Friday, in retaliation to the U.S., Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada will hit back against U.S. tariffs on Canadian aluminum with $3.6 billion in tariffs of our own.

Freeland said the tariffs will match dollar-for-dollar the costs of Trump’s tariff, which is set to kick in starting on August 16th.

She stressed the aluminum tariffs aren’t good for Americans, saying, they will hurt “Any American who buys a can of beer or a soda or a car or a bike.”

She says by imposing the tariffs, the U.S. is harming its own people when the American economy is already suffering its worst crisis since the Great Depression.

Freeland plans to consult with industry over the next 30 days, to decide what U.S. products to hit with the tariffs.

– With files from The Canadian Press