Trudeau, Trump talk steel and aluminum

Gladys Abbott
March 13, 2018

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised aluminum and steelworkers on Monday he would defend them against possible U.S. tariffs and called U.S. President Donald Trump to stress that "mutually beneficial" cross-border supply chains should be preserved.

Canada, the top supplier of steel and aluminum to the U.S. markets, and Mexico have been temporarily exempted from the tariffs until trilateral continental trade talks conclude.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused China of flooding global markets with cheap steel Monday, saying Canada has already taken steps to prevent "dumping".

"We know the tremendous effort that steel and aluminum workers put in every day to provide for their families, support their communities, and build businesses that are competitive in the global market".

He said the government needs to monitor steel imports more closely so that if shipment volumes are rising, it can react quickly to stop Canada from becoming a dumping ground into the US market.

Joseph Galimberti, president of the Canadian Steel Producers Association, said Ottawa is being urged to add staff to Global Affairs Canada and hire more inspectors for the Canada Border Services Agency.

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Mr. Trudeau said his government is working hard to ensure that the exemptions stay in place and took issue with the U.S. President's decision to use the tariffs as a bargaining chip.

He said he and Trump also "welcomed and encouraged the progress‎ being made on negotiation of the renewed North American Free Trade Agreement" and discussed an opioid crisis affecting both nations. The weekend before the announcement, Ottawa was getting word that Trump was heavily leaning toward including Canada, largely because of concerns steel from China was coming into the USA from Canada. He's also set to visit Sault Ste. The steel tariff investigation was launched to see the impact of steel imports on USA national security.

Following the close of the seventh round of negotiations last week in Mexico, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the U.S. wants to get a deal done in the next four to six weeks. If there's a tariff on a piece of paper, turn it into a paper airplane and it's in a different category and no longer subject to a tariff.

Trump signed the proclamation on those tariffs last week and the exemption given Canada was a last-minute victory for the Canadian government.

The Canadian government has vowed to retaliate if duties are imposed, but the prime minister did not answer directly when asked what measures it might take.

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