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Ending tariff exemptions for Canadian steel would hurt US economy: Trudeau

Measures in place to prevent too cheap steel and aluminum from using Canada as a back door to the US.


Stelco, on the Hamilton waterfront.
Photo: Rick Cordeiro

SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. — Justin Trudeau is telling steel workers in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., that it makes no sense for the US to reverse its decision to exempt Canada from trade tariffs on steel and aluminum.

The prime minister says restricting Canadian steel imports would hurt the American economy.

US President Donald Trump recently exempted Canada and Mexico from tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum, although the US government has been dropping hints that the exception is only temporary.

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The northern Ontario steel community of Sault Ste. Marie is the latest stop on Trudeau’s tour of metal towns and cities, which included Alma, Que., and Hamilton earlier this week, and will cap off with Regina.

Trudeau shook hands and greeted workers during a shift change early this morning at the Algoma steel plant in Sault Ste. Marie, while rolls of coiled steel radiated heat behind him.

Trudeau says Canada will not flinch in its support for workers and he hopes the threat of US tariffs can be solved in a friendly way.

During his earlier visits to factories in Saguenay, Que., and Hamilton, Trudeau said the national security argument the US has made when it comes to considering tariffs makes no sense and could not apply to Canada.

Speaking in Hamilton on March 13, Trudeau said there are measures in place, including tariffs and tougher border controls, to prevent steel and aluminum producers in other countries from using Canada as a back door to slip cheap metal into the US.

Trudeau said the surplus of steel in the global market is not new and with American tariffs in place, some countries might try to ship their products to the US through Canada.

He said Canada would be alert to that and work with industry partners and the US to make sure that doesn’t happen.

A steel tariff would be devastating for Sault Ste. Marie, the heart of steel country in northern Ontario, where Algoma makes up more than 40% of the city’s economic output.

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2016

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