Trade frictions between the United States and Canada are a “family quarrel,” President Donald Trump’s economic adviser said on Sunday, brushing aside concerns expressed by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as an overreaction.
The Trump administration said on Thursday it was moving ahead with tariffs on aluminum and steel imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union, ending a two-month exemption and potentially setting the stage for a trade war with some of America’s top allies.
Trudeau responded by calling the tariffs an affront to the longstanding security partnership between Canada and the United States. “I think he’s overreacting,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said of Trudeau on the “Fox News Sunday” program. Kudlow said the steel and aluminum tariffs on US allies “may go on for a while” or “they may not,” because the matter is subject to negotiation.
Trump also has been critical of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, saying it has harmed the United States economically, and the three countries are now engaged in renegotiation talks. Trump said on Friday he might prefer to end NAFTA in favor of two bilateral agreements with the two US neighbors. Trudeau is hosting a June 8-9 summit of Group of Seven leaders, including Trump, in the Quebec region of Charlevoix.
“I don’t think our tariffs are anything to do with our friendship and our longstanding alliance with Canada,” Kudlow said. Kudlow noted that the White House announcement of the tariffs said the United States still would welcome good-faith negotiations. “And that’s why I regard this as more of a family quarrel. This is a trade dispute, if you will. It can be solved if people work together,” Kudlow said. Kudlow added, “To say that it is an attack on Canada is not right.”
Kudlow defended the tariffs as a step to protect US interests, saying, “Trump is responding to several decades of trade abuses here.”