US drops tax on Canada aluminum, heading off retaliation

Political Connection

FILE- In this June 8, 2018, file photo, President Donald Trump talks with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a G-7 Summit welcome ceremony in Charlevoix, Canada. Canada announced Friday, June 29, billions of dollars in retaliatory tariffs against the U.S. in response to the Trump administration’s duties on Canadian steel and aluminum, saying Friday it won’t back down. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration said Tuesday that it is dropping taxes on Canadian aluminum, easing tensions with a close ally just hours before Canada was prepared to impose retaliatory sanctions.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said the U.S. is ending the 10% tariffs a month after imposing them. The U.S. had charged last month that an influx of Canadian aluminum justified the levy.

But the office said Tuesday that shipments of Canadian aluminum are returning to normal levels. It said it could re-impose the tariffs if the imports surged again.

Canada was preparing to impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products Tuesday.

A senior Canadian government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Canada had made no concessions.

“Their statement has all sorts of language about what they expect from Canada, but it’s important to note Canada has agreed to none of that,” said the official said, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

The official added that, “We’re glad the U.S. lifted tariffs — that’s a victory for Canada and the U.S.”

Trump originally imposed the tariffs on aluminum imports from most countries in 2018. He then lifted them last year on Canadian and Mexican metals to smooth the way for the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement. The USMCA took effect on July 1 and was expected to bring stability to North American trade.

Instead, Trump declared in August that he would reimpose the tariffs on Canada. The reinstated tariffs took effect, temporarily as it turned out, on Aug. 16.

The tariffs drew widespread criticism. U.S. business groups said the taxes raised costs for manufacturers that depend on imported aluminum, while not addressing the real threat to American aluminum producers: massive overproduction by China that drives prices down.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s head of international affairs, Myron Brilliant, on Tuesday, welcomed the news that the tariffs were being dropped.

“What American manufacturers need now is certainty that these tariffs won’t make another reappearance,” Brilliant said. “Setting aside these threats once and for all will allow American job creators to focus on economic recovery.”

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