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Ottawa will support steel, aluminum producers

Thursday, Jun 21, 2018

   The federal government will provide support for Canadian aluminium and steel producers affected by U.S. import tariffs, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said in Montreal on Wednesday.

  “We understand the situation, we understand that the tariffs are illegal and unjust, and we understand the importance of defending and supporting the industry and its workers and we are going to do so,” she said.
  While Freeland used her government’s support for the softwood lumber industry as an example of how it has responded to other U.S. tariffs, she said the exact type of support it will offer steel and aluminum producers is still being discussed.
  In November 2017, the federal government announced $867 million in support for lumber producers, including $605 million in loans and loan guarantees.
  Quebec, Canada’s largest producer of aluminum, announced its own program of loans and loan guarantees worth $100 million — intended to support smaller aluminum and steel producers in the province — on June 11.
  Freeland, who spoke to reporters after addressing the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations, said she had met with Quebec Economy Minister Dominique Anglade earlier in the day and discussed support for the steel and aluminum industries.
  Freeland defended her government’s decision to place retaliatory tariffs on U.S. imports after the steel and aluminum tariffs were imposed on June 1.
  “Canada will not escalate and Canada will not back down. When we face illegal and unjust measures, we will respond,” she said. “I think it’s worth reminding Canadians that our closest allies, who also face these same measures directed against them, have responded in an equivalent manner. The E.U. has announced and will be imposing retaliatory tariffs, as will Mexico.”
  The U.S. tariffs were imposed under Section 232 of U.S. trade law, which allows the U.S. government to take steps to stem imports that it believes are threatening national security.
  However, earlier in the day, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Canadian steel was not a national security threat to the U.S.
  Speaking before a U.S. Senate committee, Ross said that if a new NAFTA agreement is reached, the tariffs on aluminum and steel imports from Canada and Mexico “would logically go away.”
  While Freeland said she was pleased to read reports of Ross’s comments, she said Canada sees the tariffs as being “entirely separate from our NAFTA modernization negotiations.”
  Despite the ongoing trade dispute with the U.S., Freeland said intensive NAFTA negotiations will take place during the summer and nine “modernized” NAFTA chapters have been completed. Those modernizations, she said, will mean significant reductions in red tape for those doing business across the border.
  “Not withstanding the moments of drama, not withstanding the bumps in the road, I feel ultimately confident that we’re going get to a good place,” she said.

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