Trudeau dismisses potential aluminum tariffs as harmful to U.S. economy

PM announces extension of commercial rent relief for small businesses

As the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) on free trade goes into force July 1, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday (June 29) was quick to dismiss rumblings from American officials on the potential for more aluminum tariffs.

Trudeau said the U.S. does not produce enough aluminum to fulfill domestic manufacturing needs and any tariffs against Canada imposed by the Americans would hurt the U.S. economy by adding additional costs to customers.

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U.S. President Donald Trump originally hit Canada with aluminum tariffs in 2018, citing national security concerns.

Those tariffs were later rescinded, but Canada responded at the time with tariffs targeting some American goods.

Trudeau did not say if retaliatory measures would be in the card after CUSMA goes into effect on Canada Day.

The prime minister also took time during a media briefing to tout national COVID-19 modelling set to be unveiled later in the day as showing “things are moving in the right direction.”

The prime minister said the situation unfolding in the U.S., in which many jurisdictions are seeing significant spikes in the coronavirus, highlights the need for Canadians to stay vigilant with health protocols as the country’s economy begins to reopen.

He also announced the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program would be extended by one month.

It was originally set to cover some rental expenditures for April, May and June.

Ottawa and the provinces will cover half the cost of rent for eligible businesses, landlords will have to absorb 25% and small businesses are on the hook for the remaining 25%.

This program is aimed at small businesses paying less than $50,000 per month in rent, with annual revenue of less than $20 million.

Applicants must attest to experiencing at least a 70% drop in pre-COVID-19 revenue.

Non-profit and charitable organizations are also eligible.

Trudeau said his media briefings would now become less frequent as Canada moves into the next phase of the economy reopening.

The prime minister began the pandemic in March with daily briefings but those have become more intermittent, especially over the past month.

He added chief public health officer Theresa Tam’s media briefings would also become less frequent.

torton@biv.com

@reporton

© The Outlook

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