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‘Absurd’ for US to consider Canada a security risk over steel, defense minister says

Key Points
  • The U.S. has imposed steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada, Mexico and the EU.
  • Canada has already hit back, announcing retaliatory duties on American goods.
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Absurd to consider Canada a security risk due to steel: Defense minister

Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan has called it "absurd" for the U.S. to impose steel tariffs on his country on the basis of national security.

President Donald Trump's administration announced Thursday that it would levy tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and the EU, under the guise of national security interests. All three had been granted exemptions in March.

Canada has already hit back, announcing retaliatory duties on American goods worth up to 16.6 billion Canadian dollars ($12.8 billion).

Canada and the U.S. have a highly integrated defense approach and carry out joint operations through the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

Sajjan told CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe " on Friday that the history of cooperation between the two countries undermined U.S. logic over the new trade tariffs.

"The reasoning that has been given is literally absurd because nobody should think that Canada can be considered a national security threat to the U.S. because of steel," he said.

Sajjan added that he remained hopeful that trade issues between the two countries could be resolved "so that it doesn't impact our relationship."