Donald Trump calls Canada 'disgraceful' in row over protectionism

Rodiano Bonacci
Aprile 21, 2017

"It's a disgrace", Trump said in the Oval Office, without elaborating on what he meant.

"In the last few months, virtually all of the USA noise on dairy was coming from dairy interests - states and industry associations", he added.

Both Trudeau and Gentiloni, who was in Washington himself on Thursday, were keen to display their support for free trade and open borders - including the Canada-EU free trade pact - in the face of growing populist opposition. "We're going to have to get to the negotiatiing table with Canada very, very quickly", he said.

In their April 13 letter, the four USA dairy organizations urged Trump to call Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to halt the Class 7 program, saying it was "specifically created to stop an important US dairy export to Canada".

"What they've done to our dairy farm workers is a disgrace". Later in the day, the president held a press conference with the Prime Minister of Italy at which Trump reaffirmed his principled, fervent, week-old support for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the integrity of the European Union-positions that contradict nearly everything he said on the campaign trail about globalism and worldwide entanglements.

US dairy groups appealed to Trump for help after Canada recently introduced a new policy that gives Canadian producers an incentive to buy domestic supplies of ultra-filtered milk, a concentrated ingredient used to boost protein content in cheese and yogurt.

Trump's latest comments were more extensive than his complaints earlier this week in Wisconsin about Canadian dairy regulations. "Let's not pretend we're in a global free market when it comes to agriculture".

Reading from handwritten notes during an Oval Office signing for an unrelated memorandum, Trump called Canada's actions a "disgrace" and said the Canadian measures have hurt dairy farmers in Wisconsin and NY.

US unease has been brewing for years over the dairy restrictions, and the issue complicated negotiations of a Trans-Pacific Partnership pact, an unratified 12-nation trade deal that Mr. Trump pulled the USA out of in January. Trump also iterated his ardent amore of all things Italian "from Verdi to Pavarotti, a friend of mine. And that includes Canada", Trump told the crowd.

In returning to his campaign mantra that NAFTA is a disaster for the U.S., Mr. Trump has now added energy and lumber to his rant.

Much like some prior orders, however, Trump's executive action Tuesday essentially looks for detailed reports rather than making decisive changes.

The Canadian government responded with a statement from Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.

USA dairy farmers contend that the new Canadian policy, first rolled out at the provincial level past year but soon set to go national, drops the price of that Canadian product to the point where US producers can no longer make money selling it north of the border.

Canada doesn't export any ultra-filtered milk to the USA and simply wants to find a domestic market for a product that is in too great a supply relative to consumer demand, he said.

"It is part of the government of Canada's strategy to make arguments and make friends", he said. He called the current arrangement a "one-sided deal", and vowed to "work on it immediately".

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