Trump, Trudeau discuss dairy, lumber trade

Indo Asian News Service

Washington, April 26 (IANS) US President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke on the phone and discussed issues of bilateral trade after the US earlier this week announced its intention to impose tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber imports.

In what the White House described as "a very amicable call" on Tuesday, Trump and Trudeau discussed the dairy trade in border states, as well as lumber imports into the US.

However, Trudeau's office was less positive in its assessment of the conversation with Trump, during which the PM "refuted the baseless allegations by the US Department of Commerce and the decision to impose unfair duties", Efe news reported.

The phone call comes a day after Trump signed an executive agricultural order, criticising what he viewed as unfair dairy trade practices and complaining that farmers in US states that border Canada, such as Wisconsin, New York and others, "are not able to sell their dairy products into Canada.

"... And this has been going on for a while, and we're not going to put up with it," Trump had said.

The US President had taken to Twitter early Monday morning to criticise Canada for making "business for our dairy farmers in Wisconsin and other border states very difficult. We will not stand for this. Watch!", he had warned.

Trump also announced that his administration will "put a very big tax (...) on lumber - timber - coming into this country. People don't realise Canada has been very rough on the United States".

Trudeau rejected this, saying that Canadian-US trade in dairy products "heavily favours the US".

He said Canada imports over $550 million of dairy products from the US, but exports just over $110 million to the country.

The discussions were held against the backdrop of Trump's election campaign promise to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), threatening "to withdraw" if the US' partners, (Canada and Mexico) refuse to renegotiate.

Trudeau, however, reaffirmed to Trump that his country will continue to "uphold its international trade obligations, including NAFTA.

The Prime Minister also pointed out that "Canada would continue to defend its interests" despite pressure from its southern neighbour.