Canada has issued new exemptions to retaliatory tariffs on U.S. steel imports, despite recent indications that additional measures against the Trump Administration’s trade policies were forthcoming.
Canada’s Department of Finance quietly released a list of products on April 15 that would not be subjected to retaliatory measures in response to U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum. It would reportedly affect up to C$110 million of imports (a Canadian dollar equals $0.75 US), a small portion of the C$16.6 billion of U.S. products covered by Canada’s counter-tariffs.
The measure is intended to “protect the competitiveness” of Canadian businesses that would otherwise pay 25 percent tariffs on U.S. imports, according to the Department of Finance.
The Canadian government has granted previous exemptions since the trade dispute began in 2018, when the Trump administration instituted tariffs on steel and aluminum. They came in response to requests made by Canadian companies.
While intended to protect domestic business interests, the exemptions would seem to contradict signals from government officials that Canada was considering subjecting additional U.S. products to tariffs.
Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, addressed exemptions during a visit to the Algoma Steel company in Ontario on April 17, and characterized them as a “balancing act.” She underscored the government’s commitment to the retaliatory tariffs, which took effect in 2018.
“That was absolutely the right thing to do – I’m glad we did it,” Freeland told reporters.
The government is also pressing ahead with its long-running dispute with the U.S. on softwood lumber. It announced on April 15 that it plans to appeal a World Trade Organization decision about how the U.S. calculates duties on softwood imports from Canada.