MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota companies will be hit with huge tariffs on products they export to Canada starting July 1.
Our neighbor to the north is retaliating after President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum.
He cited national security reasons — but is Canada a threat to our national security?
Canada was insulted by Trump’s notion, and angry when he imposed a 25 percent tariff on Canadian steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum.
“That Canada could be considered a national security threat to the United States is inconceivable,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
President Trump activated a rarely-used 1962 trade law — the Trade Expansion Act — that allowed him to bypass Congress and take action against countries if their trade practices broadly “threaten to impair [our] national security.”
The law directs the president:
“He shall take such action, and for such time, as he deems necessary to adjust the imports of an article and its derivatives so that such imports will notso threaten to impair the national security.”
“They cannot believe that they’ve gotten away with this for so many decades,” Trump said said of U.S. trade allies after coming under fire for the tariffs. “They’re our allies, but they take advantage of us economically.”
So what exactly is Canada’s threat to the U.S.? The Trump administration says Canadian steel imports could hurt the U.S. steel industry, impairing the ability of factories to produce steel and aluminum for military jets and ships.
President Trump is broadly interpreting the law, which is permissible, to include threats to steel and aluminum supplies for power transmission lines and transportation systems.
Here’s the rub: The defense department says it does not need all that steel and aluminum. It only requires 3 percent of all U.S. steel production to satisfy its military needs.
The U.S. has invoked the 1962 law only five times in the last 56 years, against enemies, not friends. Here’s a list of “National Security” Actions taken by Presidents under the 1962 Trade Expansion Act:
- 1982 Libya Oil Embargo – Reagan
- 1979 Iran Oil Terminated – Carter
- 1979 Oil Import Fees – Carter
- 1975 Oil Import Fees – Ford
- 1973 Import License Fees – Nixon
President Reagan imposed a Libyan oil embargo, President Carter twice during the Iranian hostage crisis, and Presidents Ford and Nixon in the 1970s recession.
Far from being a national security threat, Canada says it is America’s most steadfast military ally, sacrificing thousands of soldiers in the last 100 years — including, most recently, 158 in Afghanistan.
If the U.S. does not remove its tariffs on Canadian products, Canada says it will retaliate with tariffs on $264 million of Minnesota products, including taconite, auto parts and packaged foods.
Here are some of the sources that we used for this Reality Check: