Northern Border Officials Concerned About Tariffs

Jun 6, 2018

Last week, the Trump Administration imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum from America's closest allies in Europe, Mexico and Canada.  President Trump has said the tariffs are needed to protect national security.  But officials in northern New York say the tariffs imposed on Canada will be more detrimental to the U.S. and are likely to hurt New York state’s economy.

The Trump Administration is using a section of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act that allows the president to impose unlimited tariffs if the Commerce Department perceives a threat to national security.
The Canadian government announced counter-tariffs of equal value on steel, aluminum and other products from the U.S.  
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau explained to Meet the Press host Chuck Todd on NBC Sunday that the two countries’ economies are interconnected and calling Canada a security risk is unconscionable.  “The idea that  you know our soldiers who had fought and died together on the beaches of WWII and the mountains of Afghanistan and have stood shoulder to shoulder in some of the most difficult places in the world that are always there for each other, the idea that we are somehow a national security threat to the United States is quite frankly insulting and unacceptable.”

Former Democratic Congressman Bill Owens is a consultant on cross-border policy and trade.  He says there is considerable concern along New York’s northern border.  “Part of the retaliation that the Canadians are going to impose on July 1st includes hits to New York of about 1.1, almost 1.2 billion dollars. Attitudinally it’s also very concerning because Canada, as Mr. Trudeau has pointed out, is a strong ally. And so the idea that the Canadians somehow pose a threat to the United States in the steel and aluminum areas first of all is factually inaccurate.  Canada has about a $2 million trade deficit to us in steel. But maybe more importantly I think it demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the relationship with Canada.”

The Plattsburgh North Country Chamber of Commerce refers to Plattsburgh as Montreal’s U.S. suburb due to its economic links to Quebec’s and Canadian business and industry.  President and CEO Garry Douglas says Canadians’ are justified in their anger and the local Chamber supports that country’s move to retaliate.  “The single biggest driving force in the North Country economy is our cross border economic partnership with Canada.  Including Canada in this trade war is an act of self-harm.”

Douglas adds that Canadians are rightfully offended by the Trump Administration’s national security basis for imposing the tariffs.  “Canadians have fought and died with Americans for years.  A Canadian general was in command of NORAD at the time of 9/11 and helped manage our response through all of that during those crucial days. Canadians bled and died on the battlefields of Afghanistan for us.  They are our ally. They are our friend. And so when the U.S. government takes an action that says we’re doing this out of some national security concern?  They are right to take offense. And when you offend a friend on a different level than just being a negotiation about numbers and things, you take it to that level, I have real fear of lasting harm that’s going to be done to what is a very special bi-national relationship.”

Owens says he is baffled by Trump’s approach to Canadian trade policy.  "This is something that will have a massive impact and really is not going to create more jobs in the U.S. That’s the fundamental flaw in this process.”  
   
Canada will impose retaliatory tariffs on a wide range of items from steel and aluminum to household products like toilet paper, tableware, sleeping bags and food.