Canada 'folded' on steel, aluminum tariffs: union
Published Monday, October 1, 2018 4:59PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, October 1, 2018 6:23PM EDT
The head of Canada’s steelworkers’ union says the Liberal government “folded” by agreeing to a new trade deal with the United States and Mexico that maintains steep tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum. However, a former ambassador says he doesn’t expect the tariffs to remain when the final deal is signed.
Ken Neumann, Canadian director of the United Steelworkers, told CTV News Channel that he was alarmed to see that the 25 per cent Canadian tariff on steel and 10 per cent tariff on Canadian aluminum imposed by the Trump administration in June have not been addressed in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement announced on Sunday.
“We’ve had the prime minster tour many of our facilities throughout the country, aluminum and steel, and (he) basically said, ‘Look, we’ve got your back, these (tariffs) are illegal,’” Neumann said Monday. “To find out that the 25 and 10 are still there ... is an alarming situation. We’re very unhappy.”
Neumann said he believes Trudeau’s government was “panicked” by U.S. President Donald Trump’s threats to slap tariffs on Canadian automobiles and so sacrificed Canada’s 23,000 steelworkers in order to get a better deal for autoworkers.
Neumann urged the government to reject ratification of the new deal unless the tariffs are lifted.
Former Canadian ambassador to the U.S., Michael Kergin, told CTV News Channel that he believes the steel and aluminum tariffs will be lifted before the deal is signed.
The deadline is November 30, which is three weeks after U.S. midterm elections, when trade could be on voters’ minds.
Kergin said the tariffs imposed on Canada are “not huge” but it’s important for the U.S. not to “give those away too quickly” due to the signal that it would send to their other trading partners whose steel is a bigger threat to the U.S. steel industry.
“The Americans are very, very concerned about bringing their steel manufacturing back into their country, so (the tariffs on Canada are) emblematic of a number of other arrangements that they have with other countries as well,” Kergin said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters on Monday that eliminating the tariffs “remains a priority for us” and is “something that the Americans have indicated that they are more than willing to work on.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said that there is currently “momentum” and “we are definitely looking to take advantage of that momentum to intensify conversations about steel and aluminum.”