Trump reimposes tariffs on raw Canadian aluminum, says needs to defend U.S. industry

President Donald Trump on Thursday moved to reimpose 10% tariffs on some Canadian aluminum products to protect U.S. industry from a “surge” in imports, angering Ottawa and some U.S. business groups. During a wide-ranging speech at a Whirlpool Corp (WHR.N) washing machine factory in Ohio to tout his “America First” trade agenda, Trump said he signed a proclamation reimposing the “Section 232” national security tariffs. The step was “absolutely necessary to defend our aluminum industry,” he said. The U.S. Trade Representative’s office said the 10% tariffs apply to raw, un-alloyed aluminum produced at smelters. The tariffs do not apply to downstream aluminum products. “Several months ago, my administration agreed to lift those tariffs in return for a promise from the Canadian government that its aluminum industry would not flood our country with exports and kill all our aluminum jobs, which is exactly what they’ve done,” Trump said. “Canadian aluminum producers have broken their commitment.” Canada has a natural advantage in primary aluminum production because of its ample supply of cheap hydroelectric power. A Canadian government source said Canada will respond by slapping retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods. Canada imposed similar tariffs on U.S. goods from bourbon to ketchup when Trump first imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum from Canada and Mexico in March 2018. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce called the move “a step in the wrong direction” that would raise costs on U.S. companies and consumers. But Michael Bless, chief executive of Century Aluminum (CENX.O), one of the few remaining U.S. primary aluminum smalting companies and which lobbied for bringing back the tariffs, said the move “helps to secure continued domestic production of this vital strategic material and level the playing field for thousands of American aluminum workers.”

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