Trump slaps tariff on Canadian softwood lumber

"People don't realize, Canada has been very rough on the United States", the President said to a farmers' group assembled a the White House.

His administration also moved to impose a hefty tariff on softwood lumber from the US' neighbour, accusing the Canadians of unfairly subsidising prices as part of a trade dispute dating back to the 1980s.

The two leaders met at the White House earlier this year.

The lumber and milk fall-out sets the two sides up for a wider battle as they renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Ross said the disputes over lumber and milk were evidence that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was not working, even though neither softwood lumber nor Canada's largely closed dairy market were ever covered by NAFTA.

"Having said that, I want to assure you, and I want to assure Canadians that I am absolutely firm and absolutely tough and strong". They generally are a good neighbor. "That doesn't mean they don't have to play by the rules". But Trudeau also said his officials "will work constructively together" with the United States to find a solution.

US President Donald Trump and Canada's PM Justin Trudeau.

Canada's dairy farmers agreed past year to sell milk ingredients used for cheese-making to Canadian processors, which include Saputo Inc and Parmalat Canada Inc, at prices competitive with global rates.

"That in turn lets the Canadians ship lumber into the U.S.at a subsidized price".

"Canada has made business for our dairy farmers in Wisconsin and other border states very hard". The problem is worse. I love Canada, " Trump said during one of his now-familiar photo ops.

United States lumber firms have made allegations that Canada subsidizes the industry for decades, leading to at 30 percent tariff in 2002 and that subsequent loss by the U.S. before the World Trade Organization in 2004.

USA lumber producers asked the Commerce Department last November to investigate what they viewed as unfair subsidies to Canadian competitors who procure their timber from government lands at cheaper rates.

Susan Yurkovich, the President, and CEO of the BC Lumber Trade Council, says American consumers will be impacted by this in the short term and believes increased prices have mitigated the impact on local mills.

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