U.S. President Donald Trump warned Canada on Thursday to stop shielding its dairy farmers from U.S. competition and reiterated his disdain for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), calling it "a disaster for our country."
"What they've done to our dairy farmers is a disgrace," Trump told reporters Thursday in the Oval Office. "We can't let Canada or anybody else take advantage and do what they did to our workers and to our farmers."
Canada protects its dairy industry with high tariffs on imports and controls domestic production as a means of supporting dairy prices. Canada imposed an import tax on filtered milk, which had previously been duty free, after the country's dairy farmers complained about U.S. imports.
The trade dispute is affecting dairy farmers in northern U.S. border states, such as Wisconsin, New York and Minnesota, and prompted Trump to announce that his administration will propose changes to NAFTA in two weeks.
Trump's threat to do away with or amend NAFTA could adversely affect the economy of Canada, whose largest trading partner is the U.S.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau maintained in an interview Thursday with Bloomberg Television that Canada's trade policies are not unusual, saying every nation defends its agricultural industries.
"Let's not pretend we're in a global free market when it comes to agriculture," Trudeau said. "Every country protects, for good reason, its agricultural industries."
Trump has frequently criticized the free-trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, but has not signaled what he intends to do.