In a move that could potentially have consequences for Canada’s aluminum and steel industry, US President Donald Trump said on Thursday he plans to impose significant tariffs on steel and aluminum from other countries, starting “next week.”
Trump made the announcement during a meeting with steel and aluminum executives at the White House on Thursday morning.
While he said he doesn’t “blame” other nations, “the fact is we weren’t treated – and we haven’t been treated – fairly by other countries.”
America’s aluminum industry he said, “has been decimated.”
“We’re bringing it back, and we’re going to be bringing it back relatively rapidly.”
Trump announced that tariffs on steel will be set at 25%, while tariffs on aluminum will be 10%.
The president didn’t provide many other details on the tariff plan, and it’s unknown at this point whether Canada will be exempt from this tariffs, as it was in 2002, when President George W. Bush made a similar announcement.
To no one’s surprise, Trump also tweeted his thoughts on the situation.
Our Steel and Aluminum industries (and many others) have been decimated by decades of unfair trade and bad policy with countries from around the world. We must not let our country, companies and workers be taken advantage of any longer. We want free, fair and SMART TRADE!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 1, 2018
Nearly 9 million U.S. jobs depend on trade and investment with Canada, and Canada is the top export destination for 35 states.
Canadian steel industry responds
In response to Trump’s announcement, United Steelworkers Union said Canada “must be excluded” from the tariffs.
“The evidence is clear that Canadian steel and aluminum imports are not part of the problem that the US administration is trying to address through its Section 232 investigation,” said USW National Director Ken Neumann.
“The investigation heard extensive evidence that Canada is a key U.S. ally that should be excluded from tariffs. Canada clearly is not one of the ‘bad actors’ that engage in unfair trade and dumping of aluminum and steel into the United States,” he added.
OOn the contrary, “Canadian steel exports are part of deeply integrated supply chains for U.S. products. Imposing tariffs on Canadian exports risks causing significant economic harm and job losses on both sides of our border.”
USW International President Leo W. Gerard echoed Neumann’s thoughts.
“Canada is not the problem,” he said.
“The United States and Canada have integrated manufacturing markets. In addition, the defence and intelligence relationship between the countries is unique and integral to our security. Any solution must exempt Canadian production,” he explained.
Steelworkers’ Quebec Director Alain Croteau asserted that “U.S. tariffs against Canadian aluminum producers would not serve the interests of the American economy.
“Canadian producers represent a stable, secure and environmentally favourable source of aluminum that benefits American industry and consumers,” Croteau said.
“Canadian and American workers and consumers should expect that the U.S. government will do the right thing and exempt Canadian aluminum and steel exports from tariffs or quotas,” he added.
The USW reiterated its call for the Government of Canada to act decisively to defend Canadian industries and jobs.
“U.S. tariffs threaten to increase the dumping of cheap foreign steel into Canada,” Neumann said. “The federal government must act to protect Canadian industry and jobs from this potential diversion of cheap imports into our markets.”
Ontario premier “very concerned”
Ontario Premier Premier Kathleen Wynne reacted the news as well, saying she was “very concerned” by Trump’s announcement.
“Any tariff measures that include steel or aluminum from Ontario could have serious negative impacts on workers and businesses on both sides of the border,” she said.
Wynne stressed that any suggestion that Ontario-made steel or aluminum constitutes a ‘national security threat’ to the US is false.
“Canada and the U.S. are key allies and partners, and are integral to each other’s national security,” she said. “I am fully engaged in advocating for Ontario workers and businesses on this issue, both directly with the US government, and in close collaboration with the efforts being made by the Government of Canada.”