Canadian retailers could be helped by a U.S. trade battle with China

MONTREAL _ Experts say U.S. President Donald Trump’s plan to impose tariffs on up to US$60 billion of Chinese imports could help Canadian retailers by further easing cross-border shopping.

The Retail Council of Canada says that the plan to raise the price of Chinese goods, such as electronics, sold in the United States could prompt more Canadians to shop at home.

Council vice president Karl Littler says lower demand for Chinese imported goods could help Canadian retailers negotiate better deals.

Canadian Association of Importers and Exporters president Joy Nott also thinks higher prices for goods could encourage more Americans to shop in Canada.

She says Canadian products that are similar to Chinese goods could also be substituted by American buyers.

China announced a $3 billion list of U.S. goods for possible retaliation a day after U.S. President Donald Trump outlined US$60 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese goods.

A detailed list of products is expected to be developed in two weeks.

Further retaliation by China could open the door from more Canadian exports to replace higher priced American goods, particularly in agriculture.

Nott says those are just silver linings on what could be a bad situation for Canada if its largest trading partner’s economy is hurt by a trade skirmish.

CIBC chief economist Avery Shenfeld says a bigger problem is an escalation of the battle into a full blown trade war that causes a slowdown in global economic growth.

As a nation that depends on exports of commodities, he says weaker demand could hurt the Canadian economy.