Around the time Donald Trump announced the dawn of peace in the Middle East on Tuesday, the United States moved away from its threat of tariffs on Canadian aluminum.
Obviously, Canada caught Trump on a good day.
While it’s not exactly the breaking out of the Middle East or even a cure for the coronavirus, Canada’s victory in the aluminum tariff battle is also not a small thing in the larger scheme of Canada-US relations. In a crazy election year, with a vote within 50 days, Canada triumphed over a tantrum from Trump.
In fact, this is the second time during the pandemic that Canada has successfully evaded Trump’s efforts to turn the COVID-19 crisis into a trade war.
The first came back in the spring, when Trump invoked a first U.S. presidential order on the production of pandemic relief supplies, such as medical masks produced by 3M. After a few extraordinary days of Canadian fists against the president (and also calmer diplomacy), Canada obtained such an exemption, which remains in effect.
Chrystia Freeland, who also struck a new North American free trade deal at Trump’s White House two years ago, had reason to appear elated when she spoke to reporters on the aluminum victory on Tuesday .
“It’s a day when common sense prevailed,” Freeland said, which is also something you can’t say that happens every day in Donald Trump’s America.
Originally, it was a press conference at which Freeland would announce all of the U.S. products Canada planned to hit with retaliatory tariffs. On that list were washing machines produced at the same plant in Ohio where Trump announced the tariff war on Canadian aluminum in August.
This tactic would not be unprecedented either. In 2018, when Trump hit Canada with a series of steel and aluminum tariffs, Canada hit back with a comprehensive, dollar-for-dollar, retaliatory list set with political impact in mind.
As it turned out, Canada didn’t need to unveil a similar list in this battle, but International Trade Minister Mary Ng said Canada kept one in its back pocket in case Trump unleashed one. another round of tariff rockets.
Neither Canada nor Justin Trudeau are major players in “Rage,” Bob Woodward’s new book which was officially released on Tuesday, even though the country found itself in the grip of the president’s temper tantrums. Trudeau isn’t even mentioned among those 18 interviews the president gave Woodward, but business is a recurring obsession that has become boring for Woodward.
“Trump practiced when I tried to shatter his litany of accomplishments and trade grievances – which we covered almost every time we spoke – with more questions about foreign policy,” Woodward writes.
This is a look at Trump, how everything about his worldview, even in a pandemic, is viewed through the lens of commerce. At another point in the book, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner points out that the Canada-U.S. Mexico Free Trade Agreement is one of the top three things Trump had to do to win re-election.
Peace in the Middle East, by the way, is not one of the three: it would be the wall on the Mexican border and a trade deal with China.
Chances are that neither Trump nor his traders fully explain why they backed down in this most recent trade war with Canada, but it’s a safe bet, once again, that the United States has. learned that playing with Canada is more complicated and expensive than they anticipated. This seems like a lesson the Trump White House needs to learn.
In the spring, Canada got the exemption on the American order first because it was able to demonstrate that the United States was also relying on this country to produce pandemic relief supplies – pulp from Colombia -British for masks, for example, or Canadian parts for fans.
It is bad luck for Trudeau that Trump’s election has ended up being such a defining feature of his time in power, forcing the Liberal government to constantly defend itself in its dealings with Canada’s most important neighbor and trading partner. .
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But it has yet to lose any major battles and, remarkably, Canada is currently managing to keep its border closed with the United States for the longest period in either history. country. He achieved this through a complicated and constant negotiation in which the two countries repeatedly examine what is essential in their relationship.
Again, this is not peace in the Middle East, but it is not trivial either. Trump has two types of fights close to his heart: commerce and re-election. Quietly, Canada continues to show that it does not win all the fights it chooses.
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