- Reuters/Carlos Barria
The US and Canada are embroiled in an escalating fight over trade policy, and the tensions between the close allies seemed evident in the readouts both countries released of a phone call on Tuesday between US President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Trudeau’s office’s readout of the call included several details of the conversation.
“The prime minister and the president reaffirmed the importance of the mutually beneficial Canada-US trade relationship,” Canada’s readout said. “On the issue of softwood lumber, the prime minister refuted the baseless allegations by the US Department of Commerce and the decision to impose unfair duties.”
“Unfair duties” was a reference to Trump’s decision on Tuesday to impose a 20% tariff on Canadian softwood lumber imports. Washington argued that Canada unfairly subsidized the sale of lumber exports to the US and that previous attempts at negotiation were unsuccessful.
Trudeau “stressed that the government of Canada will vigorously defend the interests of the Canadian softwood lumber industry, as we have successfully done in all past lumber disputes with the US,” according to Canada’s readout of the phone call.
The two leaders also discussed the dispute over the Canadian dairy industry that Trump has recently highlighted. He has accused Canada of taking advantage of US dairy farmers.
“The prime minister and the president also discussed Canada-US trade in dairy products, trade which heavily favours the US: Canada imports over $550 million of dairy products from the US, but exports just over $110 million to the US,” Canada’s readout of the call said.
“The prime minister reaffirmed that Canada upholds its international trade obligations, including the North American Free Trade Agreement, under which the US continues to have duty-free and quota-free access for milk protein substances … and that Canada would continue to defend its interests,” the statement continued. “The prime minister and the president agreed to continue their dialogue on these important bilateral issues.”
The White House’s readout of the same phone call was just four sentences.
“President Donald J. Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke today,” the White House’s readout said. “The two leaders discussed the dairy trade in Wisconsin, New York state, and various other places. They also discussed lumber coming into the United States. It was a very amicable call.”