OTTAWA (CP,April 18,2017):— President Donald Trump singled Canada out by name Tuesday as he put dairy farmers north of the border on notice that they are in America’s fair-trade sights.
Trump also signalled he wants to do more than simply tweak the North American Free Trade Agreement, saying he is looking for “very big changes” to the trilateral pact that includes Mexico, or else he will scrap it once and for all.
Trump levelled the threats — some of his strongest-ever anti-Canadian rhetoric — during an event at a Wisconsin factory where he unveiled his “Buy American-Hire American” executive order.
After what has been a relatively warm beginning in relations with Canada, which included what was seen by many as a positive trip to Washington by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump dropped the gloves on Canada’s well-guarded dairy sector, one of the sacred cows of Canadian industry.
Other countries have taken runs at Canada’s sacrosanct supply-management system in previous trade negotiations, and Trump appeared to be taking dead aim during his appearance Tuesday in the U.S. Midwest — in a state he took from the Democrats with his “America First” anti-trade message.
“When it comes to wasteful destructive job killing regulations, we are going to use a tool you know very well — it’s called the sledgehammer,” Trump said.
Standing up for dairy farmers in Wisconsin “demands fair trade with all of our trading partners,” Trump said, “and that includes Canada.”
In Canada, he continued, “some very unfair things have happened to our dairy farmers and others and we’re going to start working on that.”
Canada has decided to impose import taxes on ultra-filtered milk, a protein liquid concentrate used to make cheese. It had been duty-free but Canada changed course after milk producers there complained.
About 70 dairy producers in both Wisconsin and New York are affected. Trump promised to work with Wisconsin’s congressional delegation to get a solution after the governors of Wisconsin and New York urged him to take action.