Steelworkers rep calls new U.S. tariffs a 'straight attack' on Regina's Evraz operations
'I'm not sure how deep this is going to go,' said Mike Day
A recent U.S. announcement on anti-dumping duties for large-diameter welded pipe is being seen as a direct attack on a steel producer and plant in Regina.
"I'm not sure how deep this is going to go. It's going to affect us more than anybody else in the Evraz chain," said United Steelworkers Local 5890 president Mike Day, of the fact that Regina produces the lion's share of large-diameter welded pipe that's made to order, and shipped to Canada's neighbours to the south.
The announcement of an immediate 24.38 per cent cash deposit on these steel imports came within just two months of another announcement that Canadian steel and aluminum would not be exempt from tariffs.
Day said the jobs of steelworkers in Regina seem to be in increasing jeopardy.
"We're the largest steel producer in Western Canada. We're the number one producer of large diameter pipe in North America. It seems like a straight attack on us and the thousand members we have, the thousand employees we have here in Regina."
Evraz did not respond to a request for comment.
Bulk of product shipped from Saskatchewan
However, the U.S. action directly connects to Evraz's operations in Saskatchewan, said Trevor Tombe, an associate economics professor at the University of Calgary.
In 2017, Canada exported $243 million worth of wide-diameter pipes to the U.S., of which $215 million worth of product came from Saskatchewan, he said.
Tombe noted that the company has multiple options on how it might respond to the tariffs, which include shifting its product to other buyers, or absorbing the cost of tariffs.
"It also depends on what happens to the price of pipe," he said, noting that softwood lumber has been subject to similar tariffs.
There's a lot of moving parts and it's tough to say what the future holds.- Trevor Tombe, associate economics professor
"But the price of lumber has gone up by so much that the companies have been able to eat the tariffs and still not be a lot worse off relative prior to anti-dumping duties," he said.
"There's a lot of moving parts and it's tough to say what the future holds."
For Day and his fellow steelworkers, though, the uncertainty is difficult to handle.
He said Canadian steelworkers were hopeful that the U.S. would continue to trade fairly with Canada, and be exempt from damaging tariffs.
"And they turn around and stab us in the back," he said.
"We're not dumping pipe or anything like that into the US. However they've come up with this, it seems outrageous."