Editor’s note: The Consul General of Canada in Detroit says Michigan bears no financial risk in the construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge. The Government of Canada is paying for the project, and will be repaid through toll revenue. The consulate says Michigan will earn 50 percent of toll revenue once Canadian and other investments are paid off. An earlier version of this story said Michigan would repay its share of the cost through toll revenue. The report has been corrected—PB
Billions of dollars of goods and services cross the border between the United States and Canada every year. Much of that trade travels over three bridges connecting Michigan and Ontario. Canada wants a new bridge between Detroit and Windsor, and has pledged to pay for the whole thing, including a new U.S. Customs and toll plaza in Detroit’s Delray neighborhood. The state of Michigan has already started clearing land in Delray for the plaza.
But the long-standing relationship between the two nations has been strained by President Trump’s decision to impose new tariffs on steel and aluminum from Canada. The president has the power to levy tariffs in the interest of national security. That angered Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who called it a turning point in the relationship..
“Let me be clear: These tariffs are totally unacceptable,” Trudeau said, calling them an “affront to the long-standing security partnership between Canada and the United States.”
Douglas George, Canada’s Consul General in Detroit, echoed the prime minister’s sentiment.
“Canada is the United States’ closes friend, partner, ally. And we cannot understand how they could in any way claim that iron and steel coming from Canada puts the U.S. at jeopardy,” George said. He says Canada has already responded by levying an equal amount of tariffs on American goods.
Billions flow between them
In 2017, the value of trade between the United States and Canada was more than $670 billion (U.S.). Statistics show that the U.S. had a trade surplus of $8.4 billion with its northern neighbor, counting goods and services. But the U.S. Trade Representative, part of the executive branch, reported a trade deficit of $17.5 billion dollars when only goods are counted (see fact sheet below).
A bridge too far?
One might wonder what impact, if any, the tariffs might have on plans to build the Gordie Howe International Bridge. George says it’s too early to answer that question. But he says the project is moving forward.
“There were three consortiums bidding to build the bridge,” George says. “Those bids are being analyzed, and a decision will be made in the coming weeks on which is the preferred proponent.”
George says he expects construction of the bridge to start this fall. Click on the audio player to hear the conversation with WDET’s Pat Batcheller.