As consul general of Canada to Pennsylvania, I have traveled across the commonwealth and my team and I have engaged with business executives, politicians and labor leaders from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia and all points in between.
Everywhere I go, my message is the same: Canada is the United States’ largest trading partner and most steadfast ally. Canadian soldiers have served alongside Americans in difficult places around the world. We have fought and died together.
That is why the decision by the U.S. administration to impose tariffs on Canadian aluminum and steel, citing national security concerns, is so perplexing and hurtful to Canadians. The idea that Canada could be considered a national security threat by selling goods to the United States is, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau put it, quite frankly, insulting.
The facts are clear: The United States has a $2 billion surplus in steel trade with Canada. Canada buys more American steel than any other country in the world, representing half of all U.S. steel exports. Canada is working directly with the United States to prevent unfairly priced foreign steel and aluminum from flooding the North American market. U.S. tariffs on Canadian metal products will be harmful to industry and workers on both sides of the border, disrupting supply chains that have made North American steel and aluminum more competitive around the world.
Nowhere in the United States will this be felt more acutely than in Pennsylvania. The economies of Canada and the commonwealth are too intertwined for this decision not to significantly affect families and communities across the state, as it will across America.
The decision to levy tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum does nothing to address the very real problem of foreign steel and aluminum overcapacity and dumping. Instead, it will hit American consumers with higher costs and spark retaliation, which will drive up prices and harm both our economies.
In my travels across this great state, I have met with many companies that rely on Canada as both a provider and a consumer of steel and aluminum. Our trade is integrated, fair and balanced.
The relationship between Canada and the United States is deep, multifaceted and, yes, complicated. But one thing is clear: For the past 150 years, it has been powered by a spirit of partnership unparalleled around the world. Targeting Canada for tariffs runs completely counter to the dynamic that has underpinned the economic prosperity and success of the U.S.-Canadian relationship for the last century.
Our disagreement is not with the American people; it is with this particular government policy.
I remain optimistic that, with the support our partners in Pennsylvania and across the United States, common sense will prevail.
PHYLLIS YAFFE, consul general of Canada to Pennsylvania