Canada has warned the United States that it would retaliate if Washington imposed new tariffs on imported Canadian goods.
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said after a meeting with new US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Washington on Wednesday that her country was opposed to the introduction of new tariffs.
She said she had conveyed that same stance to Tillerson.
“I did make clear that we would be strongly opposed to any imposition of new tariffs between Canada and the United States,” Freeland said.
The Canadian foreign minister said tariffs on exports would be “mutually harmful,” and that, “If such an idea were ever to come into being, Canada would respond appropriately.”
Pointing to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which US President Donald Trump has said he planned to renegotiate, Freeland stressed that more than 75 percent of Canada’s exports go to the US and that major changes to NAFTA would cripple bilateral trade between the two neighboring countries.
Trump, a former businessman who has never served in government or diplomatic posts, has called the pact, which was signed between the US, Canada, and Mexico in 1994, “a disaster.”
Revamping the 23-year-old deal was one of Trump’s central pledges back when he was campaigning for presidency.
Canada had previously indicated that it was open to renegotiations, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowing to work closely with the new US president on the trade deal.
NAFTA was first proposed by the administration of former president George H.W. Bush and was finalized by his successor Bill Clinton, aiming to remove most trade tariffs between the three countries.
Trump threatened in the buildup to his November 8, 2016 election victory that he would withdraw the US from the pact “if we don’t get the deal we want.”