Canada said the United States should be patient about determining whether to reimpose aluminum tariffs on imports, but says it will retaliate if their southern neighbour pulls the trigger.
At the heart of the tariff debate is the question of whether Canadian raw-aluminum imports have surged since tariffs were lifted in May 2019, contravening recent trade agreements. Canadian Ambassador Kirsten Hillman said there has been an increase in the production of unalloyed, or raw, aluminum as producers have been forced to shift from value-added products amid a drop in demand during the pandemic.
As the auto industry and other manufacturing sectors come back online, demand will shift back to more value-added aluminum, Hillman said. She said the situation will rectify itself in the coming months.
“Let’s take a little time to see how this settles out and make sure that this trade is following the normal patterns that one would expect in a time like this,” Hillman said Wednesday in a telephone interview. “If tariffs are imposed we’ll have very few options other than to respond with duties on U.S. imports.”
Hillman didn’t rule out retaliating on agricultural products in the event that the United States reimposes tariffs on the lightweight metal. The ambassador said the agreement to lift the tariffs provided that retaliation would be limited to aluminum and aluminum products. But if the deal isn’t respected, there might be a possibility to retaliate on something other than aluminum, she said.