© Can Stock Photo / akiyoko

Deal to end U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum

Speaking before steelworkers in Hamilton, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced a deal to end Canadian and U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminium.

Trudeau’s visit to the Stelco Plant was made at the last minute after he spoke with U.S. President Trump by phone earlier in the day on Friday.  A news conference announced for 1:30 p.m. was delayed by almost an hour.

Last June, the U.S. imposed a 25 per cent tariff on Canadian steel and a 10 per cent tariff on Canadian aluminium.  Canada retaliated a month later with its own tariffs on a list of American products made with U.S. steel and aluminium.

The Trump Administration argued the tariffs were needed because Canadian steel and aluminium presented a security threat to the U.S., an allegation Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland called “absurd”.

The New Democrats criticized the Trudeau government for agreeing to the United States Mexico Canada Agreement while the tariffs remained in place, but Freeland maintained her government considered it a separate issue.  The federal Conservatives were also critical.

“We have been consistent on this from the first moment the U.S. started talking about 232 steel and aluminium tariffs that this had nothing to do with our NAFTA negotiations,” said Freeland in November during a visit to Unifor Local 444 in Windsor to explain the new trade agreement. “That has been a very important position for Canada. We are going to maintain that.”

The new trade agreement still must be ratified by all three countries’ governments.

The tariffs have presented difficulties for many Canadian businesses.

The reaction from the manufacturing sector was quick.