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PM should retaliate if Trump issues new tariffs: Dias
OTTAWA -- The largest private sector union is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to “stand firm” against the prospect of the re-imposition of tariffs on Canadian aluminum from the U.S. administration and says retaliation should be considered if the Americans follow through.
As CTV News has reported, the United States is considering slapping tariffs on aluminum imports coming from Canada, under Section 232 of the U.S. Trade Expansion Act, unless Canada agrees to restrict its export volumes through quotas.
In a letter to the prime minister, Unifor National President Jerry Dias urges Trudeau to “reject any concessionary demands the U.S. requests of Canada on this matter,” calling the prospect of new tariffs “totally unwarranted.”
Speaking on behalf of Unifor’s aluminum industry members, Dias goes on to say that the arguments that American steel producers are making to the Trump administration about the need for intervention — including that a surge in Canadian aluminum imports is causing aluminum prices to collapse — are “preposterous and utterly divorced from reality.”
He said that globally, due to COVID-19, demand for metal has “fallen off a cliff,” resulting in declining prices.
“We must not allow these bullying tactics to succeed. I urge you to stand strong in the face of this misinformation campaign and reject any quotas that would disrupt the Canadian aluminum industry once again and lead to unnecessary layoffs,” Dias said.
The United States hit Canada with steel and aluminum tariffs in May 2018, during negotiations for the new NAFTA deal. The tariffs remained in place for a year, during which time Canada reciprocated with dollar-for-dollar countermeasures on American steel, aluminum, as well as levelling a surtax on other goods.
A year later, Canada and the U.S. issued a joint statement announcing a decision to lift the tariffs, confirming that the two nations also agreed to terminate World Trade Organization litigation Canada launched after slamming the U.S. tariffs as "punitive" and "an affront" to Canada-U.S. relations.
While the U.S. tariffs were in place, Unifor launched a campaign against them, and now Dias is suggesting that “reciprocal measures may be warranted and must be considered” if the U.S. pushes forward with this new trade action against Canada’s aluminum sector.
The agreement to lift tariffs came amid indications that new NAFTA trade talks were moving in a positive direction. That trade agreement has since been ratified by all three countries — Canada, the U.S., and Mexico — and comes into effect on July 1.
With files from CTV News’ Rachel Gilmore