The Liberal government will not “act in an impulsive way” in response to U.S. corporate tax cuts that economists say pose a threat to Canada’s competitiveness, the federal finance minister said after a pre-budget meeting Friday.
Bill Morneau said the government is conducting careful analysis in connection with U.S. President Donald Trump’s sweeping tax reforms, which cut the U.S. corporate tax rate to 21 per cent from 35 per cent as of Jan. 1.
“We are doing our analysis to make sure that we understand the impact of any changes … to make sure we get it right and not to act in an impulsive way,” he told reporters Friday.
Morneau’s comments came after he met with private sector economists in Toronto to get their views on everything from NAFTA to global economic uncertainty ahead of the federal budget on Feb. 27.
The panel typically includes about a dozen experts from commercial banks, think-tanks and trade associations.
The finance minister was tight-lipped Friday about the upcoming budget, but he said the discussion with economists touched on the uncertainty around negotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the impact of changes to U.S. tax rates on the Canadian economy.
“We will carefully consider the U.S. changes and the international situation to make sure that our economy is competitive,” he said.
He would not comment on whether tax cuts are in the cards for large Canadian corporations.
Economists have said the tax reforms will give companies another reason to set up shop or relocate south of the border.
Morneau also hinted Friday that clarifications to rules around passive income for small businesses would be coming, after a suite of changes announced last summer drew substantial backlash from the business community.