Staff Editorial

Iowans will suffer in trade war with Canada

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives at a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, June 20, 2018. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives at a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, June 20, 2018. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)
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Not all trade wars are created equal.

China, on one hand, poses legitimate economic and security threats to the United States. President Donald Trump has correctly identified problems with China’s international policy, even though he has prescribed the wrong solutions, in the form of protectionist trade policies which will have disastrous consequences for both sides.

On the other hand, the Trump administration’s attacks against Canadian imports are confounding. All things considered, our northern neighbor has been a reliable ally and trade partner.

Earlier this month, the Trump administration applied tariffs on steel and aluminum from Canada, Mexico and Europe, which government and business leaders in Canada worry could tip the country into a recession. In response, Canada is imposing more than $16 billion in tariffs on U.S. materials and goods, set to take hold on July 1.

The emerging trade war between the United States and Canada should be a top concern to Iowans. Canadians bought an estimated $4 billion worth of Iowa products last year, largely from agriculture producers and manufacturers. That accounts for about a third of Iowa’s international trade.

We are glad to see U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack voicing opposition at the national level. He wrote a letter to Trump administration U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer last week, urging his office to exempt Canada from the new steel and aluminum tariffs.

“These tit for tat trade actions between the U.S. and Canada put Iowans at risk and could have massive economic impacts in my home state. … I cannot understand what national security threat Canada poses to the United States in this case,” Loebsack wrote.

There’s no doubt this is a worthwhile cause, but being a Democrat, Loebsack is unlikely to persuade the Trump administration.

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Our Republican governor, senators and congressmen have made general statements about the negative impacts of Trump’s trade wars, but so far they have stopped short of demanding specific policy action from members of the administration, like Loebsack has done. The Republicans’ relative silence in this crucial fight cannot be overlooked.

Like Iowa, other states which helped launch Trump to the presidency stand to suffer severe consequences as trade tensions with Canada escalate. All these states have Republican politicians who endorsed Trump.

It’s time for those politicians to call in a favor and stop the trade war with Canada. Our livelihood depends on it.

• Comments: (319) 398-8262; editorial@thegazette.com

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