IPP&T Magazine Online

Steelworkers welcome tariff deal, but warn Ottawa to defend against unfair trade practices

May 21, 2019  

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The United Steelworkers (USW) has welcomed the agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico to lift U.S. tariffs on  aluminum and steel, but urges the Canadian government to impose critical measures needed to defend Canada’s steel sector against import surges and unfair trade practices.

“We have fought the U.S. tariffs non-stop for close to a year and their removal is good news for workers, producers and communities across the country,” said USW national director Ken Neumann. “Our union has been pushing as hard as we can – in Canada and in the U.S. – for these tariffs to be lifted. We’ve finally achieved that goal, but it should have been resolved long ago.”

From the outset the USW have taken the position that these tariffs were illegal and unjustified.

“They were imposed on the basis that our exports posed a threat to U.S.  national security, but of course Canadian steel and aluminum have never posed any such threat,” he said. “These absurd tariffs were particularly harmful because Canada and the U.S. have an integrated market in steel and aluminum.”

The tariffs have had a significant effect on Canadian workers, with more than 600 layoffs in the steel sector. Additionally, new investments in Canada’s steel and aluminum sector have been put on hold or jeopardized due to the instability caused by the U.S. tariffs.

“Our steel sector and our workers are still at risk from predatory practices of foreign producers who flout fair trade rules and who are now shut out of other markets. It is critical that the federal government impose measures to stabilize our market and defend Canada’s steel sector from these destructive practices,” said Neumann. “As it is, Canada stands alone in failing to protect our markets, while the U.S., Mexico and Europe have taken strong action to defend their steel industries.”