OTTAWA—Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland joined the European Union on Friday to challenge U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum shipments with the World Trade Organization, and filed a separate challenge under the North American Free Trade Agreement arguing America is offside with international trading rules.
“The tariffs … are completely unacceptable, and in fact they are illegal,” Freeland said.
“This is a moment when it is important for us to be clear and firm,” she said, thanking Canadians who had backed the government’s announcement a day earlier of tit-for-tat tariffs on a range of exports, including U.S.-made steel, aluminum and other consumer goods.
Canada’s lengthy target list may be trimmed, or expanded, by the time a two-week consultation period ends, said a government official. For now, another source said, it adds up to about $ 19 billion worth, but Canada is targeting import values of $ 16.6 billion — equivalent to the 2017 value of Canadian steel and aluminum exports that will be hit by U.S. tariffs.
The July 1 deadline for Canadian tariffs to take effect provides a window for Canada and the U.S. to still broker a deal, perhaps in the framework of a NAFTA agreement.
Article Continued Below
Canada got broad backing for its opposition to the U.S. tariffs at a G7 meeting of finance ministers in Whistler, B.C., this week, where U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin encountered frank expressions of disappointment and concern from ministers of the world’s other leading western economies: Japan, Britain, France, Germany and Italy. The last four, all members of the European Union, were also targeted by Trump’s tariffs.
“There was concern that they (the U.S.) are most concerned about China but punishing their friends instead, and it makes it harder for all of the members to work together on issues like China, and that … the U.S. needs to fix this,” said an official.