President Trump’s top economic adviser said Sunday that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is “overreacting” to new U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada.
Speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” Larry Kudlow said that the Trump administration’s confrontation with Canada is a “family quarrel” that can still be resolved through negotiations.
“These tariffs may go on for a while or they may not,” he said.
The White House invoked national security concerns last week as justification for the metals tariffs, which it is also imposing on imports from Mexico and the European Union. Trudeau, in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” called that reasoning “quite frankly insulting and unacceptable,” considering the two countries’ long history of military cooperation.
“The fact that the president has moved forward with these tariffs is not just going to hurt Canadian jobs. It’s going to hurt U.S. jobs as well, and neither of those things is something that Canada wants to see,” Trudeau said.
The escalating trade conflict comes as months-long talks toward reworking the North American Free Trade Agreement appear to have collapsed. Trudeau said Thursday that the process imploded after Vice President Pence demanded that a renewed deal expire in five years.
That condition “makes no sense,” the Canadian leader said Sunday. “You don’t sign a trade deal that automatically expires every five years.”
Trump on Friday said he is weighing whether to scrap the pact altogether.
The president could face new challenges to his trade offensive from some congressional Republicans. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said in a Saturday tweet he is working with “like-minded Republican senators on ways to push back” on Trump’s recent moves. Rep. Will Hurd (R-Tex.) said Sunday he would support legislation requiring congressional sign-off on tariffs.
“A lot of us in Congress think this is this is not the way you handle trade. This is not the way you deal with your allies,” Hurd said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), who hasn’t ruled out mounting a primary challenge against Trump in 2020, criticized the inaction to date of congressional Republican leaders nominally committed to free trade. “I have been frankly shocked at the fact that our leaders think they have to ask permission from the president to do anything,” he said, in an appearance on the same program. “I think they ought to make it very clear that they’re not going to just sit back and tolerate this.”
But House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), one of Trump’s top allies on Capitol Hill, downplayed the stakes of the latest developments. “I don’t think anybody wins a trade war. But we are not in a trade war,” he said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We are in a trade discussion to renegotiate NAFTA.”