Latest U.S. trade complaint says Canada dumping welded pipe

The United States government has a new trade beef with Canada: claims that some pipe products are being dumped on the U.S. market at artificially low prices.

Canada among 6 countries named in new U.S. trade investigation into whether prices are too low or subsidized

Canada is one of six countries named in a new investigation announced Tuesday by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross into imports of large-diameter welded pipe. (Terray Sylvester/Reuters)

The United States government has a new trade beef with Canada: claims that some pipe products are being dumped on the U.S. market at artificially low prices.

Canada is one of six countries named in a new anti-dumping and countervailing duty probe announced Tuesday by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

In a statement, Ross said the trade investigation will look into whether imports of large-diameter welded pipe from Canada, China, Greece, India, Korea, and Turkey are being dumped in the United States, and if foreign producers are getting unfair subsidies. The U.S. could impose duties if it finds the imports are hurting its domestic producers.

The U.S. launched the probe after five U.S. companies  — American Cast Iron Pipe Company of Birmingham, Ala., Berg Steel Pipe Corp. of Panama City, Fla., Dura-Bond Industries of Steelton, Pa., Skyline Steel of Parsippany, N.J., and Stupp Corporation of Baton Rouge, La. — filed petitions.

In the anti-dumping probe, the U.S. Commerce Department said it will determine if imports of large-diameter welded pipe from Canada, Greece, China, India, Korea and Turkey are being dumped in the U.S. market at less than fair value. The countervailing probe will investigate if imports into the U.S. of products from China, India, Korea and Turkey are getting government subsidies.

"With an 81 per cent increase in trade cases initiated since President Trump took office, this administration has made it clear that we will vigorously administer anti-dumping and countervailing duty laws," said Ross.

The U.S. Commerce Department said Canada shipped about $66 million worth of the pipe products to the United States in 2016. 

Adam Austen, a spokesperson for Canada's minister of foreign affairs, said in an email to CBC News that the U.S. enjoys a trade surplus with Canada in steel exports, adding that Canadian and U.S. steel producers are a key part of the highly integrated North American manufacturing sector.

"We are in close contact with our exporters and will work with them to defend against these baseless claims," Austen said.

Trump complaint

News of the probe comes a day after Trump complained about Canadian trade practices. 

"Canada does not treat us right in terms of the farming and the crossing the borders," Trump said. 

"We cannot continue to be taken advantage of by other countries."

Speaking with reporters Monday, Trump also raised the suggestion of some form of penalty tax on some imports into the United States. Trump has spoken of an import tax before, and said yesterday that more details could be coming this week.

"We are going to charge countries outside of our country — countries that take advantage of the United States," Trump said.

On Tuesday, however, there were reports that White House officials were seeking to downplay Trump's comments.

The Canadian Press and Reuters both reported that an unnamed senior administration official said there were no formal plans in the works to introduce a so-called "reciprocal tax."

The new case of large-diameter welded pipe imports is just latest source of trade friction between Canada and the United States.

The two countries are sparring over duties on U.S. imports of Canada softwood lumber — a case that Canada has taken to the WTO.

In addition, the U.S. government moved last year to put duties on U.S. imports of Bombardier's C Series aircraft.

However, a U.S. trade body rejected the duties, finding that no U.S. producer suffered harm from government assistance provided to Bombardier.