Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lashed out at United States plans to impose tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminium for “national security” reasons, saying his soldiers had fought and died with American troops in Afghanistan.
The remarks came after finance ministers from the Group of Seven industrialised countries (G7) expressed outrage over US-imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum and called on Washington to reverse course.
“One of the things that I have to admit I’m having a lot of trouble getting around is the idea that this entire thing is coming about because the president and the administration have decided that Canada and Canadian steel and aluminum is a national security threat to the United States,” Trudeau said in an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday.
Trudeau called the reasoning “frankly insulting and unacceptable”.
“The idea that our soldiers who have fought and died together in the mountains of Afghanistan and stood shoulder to shoulder, somehow this is insulting to them,” he said.
Larry Kudlow, Trump’s top economics adviser, dismissed criticism of the administration’s stance as overblown on Fox News Sunday.
“I think he’s overreacting,” he said of Trudeau. “As a fine friend and ally of the United States, nobody denies that. But the point is we have to protect ourselves.”
Kudlow acknowledged the dispute over trade could jeopardise a US economy that is now “clicking on all cylinders” with surging growth and low unemployment.
“It might. I don’t deny that. You have to keep an eye on it,” he added.
But Kudlow defended Trump’s actions as aimed at reforming a global trading system rife with rule-breaking.
“Don’t blame Trump. Blame China, blame Europe, blame NAFTA. Blame those who don’t want reciprocal trading, tariff rates and protections. Trump is responding to several decades of trade abuses here,” he said.
Trudeau said the reciprocal tariffs would hurt both US and Canadian workers and consumers.