Ambassador David MacNaughto

Ambassador David MacNaughton told agricultural journalists that Canada is ready to take retaliatory actions if U.S. tariffs are not soon lifted.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — If the United States doesn’t lift its steel and aluminum tariffs, Canada may soon place new retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods, including on agricultural products.

Canadian Ambassador David MacNaughton told members of the North American Agricultural Journalists on April 8 at their annual meeting in Washington, D.C., that an important condition for Canada to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is for the U.S. to drop steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada.

The trade agreement between the three countries, which will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, has been signed but not ratified.

The retaliation would be in response to the U.S. using Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to place tariffs on steel and aluminum “for national security reasons.”

“If our two countries don’t get along, what does that to say to the rest of the world?” McNaughton said.

President Donald Trump imposed the 232 tariffs on Canada and Mexico to give the U.S. more leverage in negotiations.

“He has accomplished that goal,” MacNaughton said, and the tariffs should be removed now.

If the tariffs aren’t lifted, he said Canada would impose “dollar for dollar” retaliation tariffs, including on a “significant number of ag products.” He declined to say exactly what tariffs Canada would impose, but he said it could include apples, pork and ethanol.

“We are looking at a new list within the next week,” he said April 8.

Canada trades more than $2 billion with the U.S. daily, the ambassador said, making it one of the United States’ largest markets, not just in agriculture but also in goods and services.

The current Canadian parliamentary session ends June 15. An election will be held in October. There is pressure to get the USMCA ratified before that, MacNaughton said.

He said he is counting on Mexico passing the agreement, and hopes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will put it forward soon.

“I’d rather be talking about the positive things in the

USMCA than retaliation,” he said.

Trump calls the new USMCA “the best deal in history,” but he has kept the tariffs in place, the ambassador said. “It’s incongruous and inconsistent,” he said, and it causes “irritation and befuddlement in Canada.”

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Phyllis Coulter is Northern Illinois field editor, writing for Illinois Farmer Today, Iowa Farmer Today and Missouri Farmer Today.