SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Tomorrow, Canada's set to impose nearly $13 billion of tariffs on U.S. goods, everything from U.S. steel and aluminum to dishwashing liquid and powerboats. Those tariffs are in response to the Trump administration slapping steep tariffs on Canadian aluminum and steel a month ago, citing national security concerns. NPR's Jackie Northam reports.
DON WOODBRIDGE: So I'll show you some other products here. OK. This one here is pickled peas. And nobody else has got them on the market, you know? They taste pretty good, you know...
JACKIE NORTHAM, BYLINE: Don Woodbridge is the owner of Lakeside Packing, a small, family-owned operation in Harrow, Ontario, not far from the U.S.-Canada border. He says it's one of the last pickle-picking companies in the country, doing just over a million dollars a year in sales. But it's very likely that'll pick up if Canada goes ahead tomorrow with its threat to impose retaliatory tariffs on the U.S. Among the long list of items to be targeted are gherkins, a popular pickled treat in Canada and one which Woodbridge produces at his plant. He says he heard about it on the TV news shortly after Trump imposed tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum.
WOODBRIDGE: I was sitting in my La-Z-Boy chair. You know, we're talking about Trump. And then I see we retaliated that night. They went down the list. And they said gherkins. I couldn't believe it, you know? I could see something else. But gherkins - I lifted up my La-Z-Boy chair, and I started laughing, you know?
NORTHAM: Woodbridge said he's been flooded with phone calls from local grocery stores and restaurants because, after July 1, the cost of pickled products and a whole host of other items coming in from the U.S. will cost 10 percent more. A 25 percent tariff will also be placed on any American steel and aluminum. Darren Green is the president of the steelworkers council in Hamilton, Ontario. He backs Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's retaliatory tariffs.
DARREN GREEN: We've got no choice. We just can't accept that behavior, the bullying from somebody that is going to affect our country, our jobs, our families' livelihoods on a whim.
NORTHAM: The Canadian tariffs are designed to hit products from the states that heavily favored Trump in the presidential election. The Canadian government plans to keep them in place until the U.S. removes its tariffs. But Canada is a small economy and relies on its roughly $2 billion of daily trade with the U.S. There are concerns businesses could start relocating to the U.S. if the standoff becomes protracted. Gordon Ritchie, Canada's ambassador for trade negotiations in the 1980s, says there will be an impact, but Canada will be just fine.
GORDON RITCHIE: It's not going to be the end of the world for Canada. We have quite a strong economy. We have a lot on offer. And we have alternative markets for a lot of things.
NORTHAM: Canada has been pursuing trade deals with other nations and is staying well-connected with political and business networks in the U.S. Paul Moen, an international trade lawyer at Earnscliffe Strategy Group in Ottawa, says the government has also promised to step in to help industries.
PAUL MOEN: The prime minister and the government have been very diligent about meeting with groups that could be impacted by trade - so whether it's the steel industry, whether it's the dairy industry - reassuring them that, in the event that there is a major impact, there will be either trade actions or other types of relief provided.
NORTHAM: So far, Prime Minister Trudeau has the backing of the Canadian people. But the economy here could be hit hard if Trump ups the ante and slaps tariffs on automobiles, a critical industry in Canada. Jackie Northam, NPR News, Ottawa.
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