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article imageOp-Ed: Canada — U.S. trade war ratchets up as Trump tweets 'Watch'

By Karen Graham     Apr 25, 2017 in Politics
It's bad enough that Trump has instigated a trade war, so you can imagine everyone's surprise when as part of his early morning "tweet rants" routine, the president took on the Canadian dairy sector again, tweeting "We will not stand for this. Watch!"
Canada is and always has been this country's staunchest ally. Visits across our unfenced borders, business, trade, and the exchange of cultures have been a part of that friendship, at least until the election of Donald Trump as president.
I want to talk about the brewing trade war that President Trump is instigating because of his belief that the North American Free Trade Agreement is not in our best interests. And while I agree that discussions between the three trade partners are the best way to resolve differences, going off half-cocked, using spur-of-the-moment Twitter rants isn't.
Softwood lumber is just the first target
As CTV News Canada says, Trump fired the opening shot, announcing duties on softwood lumber in the neighborhood of 20 percent yesterday. The dispute over lumber pricing is not new and is a problem that has usually been settled through discussions in the past.
Canadian softwood lumber producers in 2015 show solid increases by the industry. — Photo: Fresh ch...
Canadian softwood lumber producers in 2015 show solid increases by the industry. — Photo: Fresh chunks of wood collected where they were growing, after 3-4 days of being cut along the new forest road north of Chehalis Lake, BC, Canada.
Disputes have been going on since the 1980s. Canadian softwood trees are owned by the individual provinces, while in the US, trees are cut from private properties. The provinces set the price for cutting trees on their land, and the fees are usually below market prices, and American companies say this gives Canadian lumber an "unfair advantage," reports Bloomberg.
The troubling issue with Trump's overly enthusiastic announcement made to members of a select group of the conservative media on Monday was that it is right in line with his vision of showing how much power he wields as president. Trump was quoted as telling the gathering, "We love Canada, wonderful people, wonderful country, but they have been very good about taking advantage of us through NAFTA."
The Canadian government did respond to the news of the tariffs, calling the announcement unfair and baseless, saying it would stand by its lumber industry. "The Government of Canada strongly disagrees with (this) decision to impose an unfair and punitive duty," said Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr. "The accusations are baseless and unfounded."
Trump renews his tirade over Canadian dairies "ultrafiltered" milk
Bottom line - Canada keeps a high tariff on most imports of dairy products, with the duty on milk being 270 percent. This keeps imports from the U.S. and other countries out of Canada, supporting higher prices for domestic milk. The one exception is ultrafiltered milk, used to make cheese and yogurt.
A dairy cow produces 53 pounds of milk every day  and 120 pounds of manure.
A dairy cow produces 53 pounds of milk every day, and 120 pounds of manure.
ZoetisGenetics
NAFTA rules do not cover this product, so they can enter Canada duty-free. Oh-ooh! When the NAFTA agreement was worked out, somehow, this product was left out. American dairy farmers were making money off this loophole, at least until last year. Canadian dairy farmers and producers moved to close the loophole with a new "ingredients strategy," according to the Globe and Mail.
The group persuaded regulators to create a new, lower-priced class of industrial milk. This was done to give domestic milk producers the incentive to produce the milk proteins in Canada instead of importing them. The result? U.S. milk producers were hit hard in 2016, and imports from the U.S. are still declining.
Will renegotiating the NAFTA agreement get rid of this new strategy? Not likely, but technology is to blame and not the dairy industry. So Trump's latest tweet is just a revival of comments he made last week when he called the dairy issue a disgrace. “What they’ve done to our dairy farm workers is a disgrace. It’s a disgrace,” he said at the time, reports The Hill.
The Canadian press has been very nice, actually, in downplaying the ridiculous actions of our "self-styled' president, as CTV News Canada puts it, and that phrase is as understated as anyone can get. But this writer thinks that Trump thrives on the irritations he causes, not only with the mainstream media in the U.S. but around the world.
After all, Trump has spent the last nearly 100 days of his presidency either provoking or angering countries around the world, leading many people to believe out fearless leader has gone off the deep end.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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