Steel association won't rule out asking Ottawa for funds to cushion tariff impact
Association president says he wants to see counter-tariffs in place as soon as possible
The head of the Canadian Steel Producers Association says his group isn't asking for government money to help its members deal with new U.S. tariffs — not yet, at any rate.
CSPA President Joseph Galimberti met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Monday morning, days after the U.S. imposed 25 per cent tariffs on some imports of foreign steel and 10 per cent tariffs on aluminum imports.
Canada, Mexico and the EU had been enjoying a reprieve from the Trump administration's tariffs, but that ended Friday.
Canada has threatened to impose retaliatory tariffs of up to $16.6 billion on some steel and aluminum products and other goods from the U.S. — including pizza and quiche — beginning July 1.
Galimberti said he'd like to see those counter-tariffs come into effect as quickly as possible "so there's not a window to ship unnecessarily into Canada without a tariff while there are tariffs applied on goods going into the United States."
He said he hasn't talked to the federal government yet about the possibility of federal financial support for producers in Canada's metals sector.
"We know there's a risk to employment but I think we'd like some time to have a discussion with the government about what kind of support is appropriate," Galimberti told reporters after the meeting.
"If ultimately that's monetary, if that's what's required to preserve investment and employment in Canada, to make sure that those 23,000 Canadians in steel continue working, then that's what we'll do. But to this point we haven't initiated that discussion yet."
Scheer questions timing of retaliation
Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer asked Trudeau Monday in the House of Commons about the timing of the retaliatory tariffs.
"While the U.S. tariffs came into force immediately last Thursday, Canadian tariffs won't come into effect until July 1. Why?" Scheer asked during question period.
Trudeau said his intention is to continue to work with the Trump administration on the file — but in the meantime he plans to consult with Canadians on the tariffs.
"We think it's important that before we bring in tariffs that we consult with Canadians, that we make sure that what we're doing are the right things for Canadians," Trudeau said.
"We know these American motions are going to hurt workers in the United States. We wouldn't want our decisions to hurt workers in Canada."
Last week, Trudeau opened the door to the possibility of direct support for metals companies, saying his government will work to protect Canadian steel and aluminum jobs.
Quebec's provincial government said Monday that it's prepared to financially support smaller aluminum producers hit by U.S. tariffs, much as it did with the softwood lumber sector.
"If there is a risk of reducing their production or a risk of not being able to export as much, we will be there to support them in making sure that they maintain the jobs that they have in that sector," Dominique Anglade, Quebec's economic development minister, told an aluminum summit.
Trump tweets about trade
Trudeau took to American airwaves over the weekend to get his anti-tariff message out, telling NBC's Meet the Press that the U.S. administration's decision to cite national security to justify tariffs on Canadian aluminum and steel is an insult.
Trump's economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said he thinks Trudeau is "overreacting," adding that he sees trade frictions between the two countries as "more of a family quarrel."
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross pointed to the slow NAFTA negotiations as a reason for not extending a reprieve on steel and aluminum duties for its North American allies.
Canada and Mexico say they are still committed to the deal, but U.S. President Donald Trump has returned to his former position of threatening to get rid of the decades-old NAFTA deal altogether.
On Friday, he said he'd like to see two separate trade deals done with Canada and Mexico.
"The U.S. has made such bad trade deals over so many years that we can only win," Trump tweeted Monday morning.
The U.S. has made such bad trade deals over so many years that we can only WIN!—@realDonaldTrump