Editorial: Tariffs drive up costs

United States president Donald Trump has another two years and five months in his term.

Until then, his trade attacks are likely to continue threatening jobs in other countries, including Canada, despite the negative effect punitive duties and tariffs on other countries have on businesses in his own country.

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Duties imposed on exports of groundwood paper from Catalyst Paper Corporation by United States Department of Commerce threaten jobs at mills in Crofton, Port Alberni and Powell River, but the tariffs are also driving up costs for businesses south of the border.

In April, Tampa Bay Times cited higher newsprint costs due to the Trump administration’s tariffs on Canadian producers as the reason for laying off 50 employees. The company estimated the action would add $3 million in additional costs. Salt Lake Tribune also attributed layoffs and a reduction in products to the tariffs.

Duties placed on BC lumber are meant to level the playing field for US producers. That may help them, but builders now face rising costs as Catalyst seeks customers elsewhere for its products.

Canada is taking a stand against protectionist measures taken by the United States, but as with most people and groups, change must come from within.

Currently, Trump not only wields the power of the oval office, but the Republican Party also holds a majority in the House of Representatives (236 to 193 with six vacancies) and the Senate (51 to 49). As much as some Republicans speak out against their president, the party’s current position provides it with opportunities to move forward with an agenda favourable to supporters. None wants to rock the boat, not too much anyway.

The biggest opportunity for Americans to voice their opinions on the Trump administration comes on November 18 when all seats in the house and 35 in the senate will be contested. The outcome will not change who is president, but it could create a shift in power if the Democratic Party can assume control of one, or both houses.

Those counting the days until November 2020 can dream about a new administration with a different foreign policy and work to overcome the impact of the president’s base. It will take a lot of work but there are signs it can happen.

In the meantime, Canada needs to do what it can to mitigate policies that are hurting segments of both countries’ economy.

 
Copyright © 2018 Powell River Peak

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