'We had your backs': Trudeau on country's steel and aluminum workers

Ivan Schwartz
March 13, 2018

Canada, the top supplier of steel and aluminum to the United States market, has been temporarily exempted from the tariffs, along with Mexico.

President Donald Trump required Canada and Mexico to take steps to stop trans-shipments of foreign steel via their ports as one of the conditions for exempting them from the 25 per cent duty on steel and 10 per cent duty on aluminum that will apply to imports from every other country.

Freeland said it was absurd to consider Canadian steel a national security threat and that "as far as Canada is concerned there is absolutely no connection" between the national security reasons cited for the steel tariffs and NAFTA.

The president of the Canadian Steel Producers Association says Canada may be off the hook for now from American steel and aluminum tariffs but it is still at risk from a glut of foreign steel.

In a phone call from the smelter town, Trudeau thanked Trump for the "special consideration" extended to Canada on the tariffs, and emphasized the importance of preserving "mutually beneficial" supply chains to support jobs and businesses on both sides of the border, his office said.

Mr. Trump has threatened to expand the steel and aluminum duties to the two countries if there is no progress on meeting USA demands in the negotiations on the North American free-trade agreement.

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He said the government needs to monitor steel imports more closely so that if shipment volumes are rising, it can react quickly to stop Canada from becoming a dumping ground into the USA market.

Trudeau rejected calls by some Quebec union leaders to take a harder line in NAFTA talks and leave the table if Canada can not get a better deal.

Following the close of the seventh round of negotiations last week in Mexico, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the U.S. wants to get a deal done in the next four to six weeks.

"We will continue working toward securing a definite and permanent exemption from those tariffs", Trudeau said. The weekend before the announcement, Ottawa was getting word that Trump was heavily leaning toward including Canada, largely because of concerns steel from China was coming into the US from Canada. He is scheduled to tour steel mills in Hamilton, Sault Ste.

Trump signed the proclamation on those tariffs last week and the exemption given Canada was a last-minute victory for the Canadian government. Marie, Ont., and Regina, Sask.

The prime minister was touring an aluminum smelter in Alma, Quebec.

Other reports by GizPress

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