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Canadian aluminium industry denounces U.S. tariffs

Russell Hixson
Canadian aluminium industry denounces U.S. tariffs

The Aluminium Association of Canada (AAC) is speaking out against American tariffs on Canadian aluminium.

U.S. President Donald Trump said he would reimpose a 10 per cent tariff on aluminium products from Canada after accusing the Liberal government of breaking promises not to flood the U.S. market with exports.

“I signed a proclamation that defends American industry by reimposing aluminium tariffs on Canada. Canada was taking advantage of us, as usual,” said Trump during a recent campaign speech in Ohio.

Jean Simard, president and CEO of the AAC, expressed disappointment at the move, saying it will hurt both countries.

“It certainly creates additional uncertainty in our value chain and it makes business decisions very hard,” said Simard. “Our business environment, because of COVID and the economic recession that North America has entered, is already precarious to say the least.”

Simard said the tariffs have essentially thrown hundreds of millions of dollars in the air for no reason.

 

This is the wrong thing, at the wrong time, to the wrong people for the wrong reasons,

— Jean Simard

Aluminium Association of Canada

 

The Canadian government has stated it would reply with $3.6 billion in dollar-for-dollar tariff retaliations.

“At a time when we are fighting a global pandemic…a trade dispute is the last thing anyone needs. It will only hurt the economic recovery on both sides of the border,” Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a news conference.

Freeland added the U.S. tariffs are “ludicrous” and that Trump’s claims about Canada undermining U.S. national security are false.

“Any American who buys a can of beer or a soda or a car or a bike will suffer. In fact, the washing machines Trump stood in front of yesterday will get more expensive,” said Freeland.

Simard noted that the metal that might take the place of Canadian metal would likely come from Russia.

“The U.S. consumer will be buying products using Russian metal instead of Canadian metal,” he said. “I’m not sure that’s what they want to do.”

Simard called Canadian retaliation to the tariffs appropriate but was hoping they would include agricultural products.

“This is the wrong thing, at the wrong time, to the wrong people for the wrong reasons,” said Simard, explaining U.S. consumers would bear the brunt of the tariffs while they are also weathering difficult economic conditions.

According to the AAC, overall exports of primary aluminium from Canada into the United States declined by about 2.6 per cent from May to June.

Primary aluminium import volumes from Canada for the first six months of 2020 were nearly five per cent lower than the same period in 2017. The AAC stated that Canadian aluminium has been a key competitive advantage for U.S. manufacturers since the beginning of the 20th century and is recognized in United States law as a contribution to the nation’s defence and an important component of its industrial base.

The association added while the U.S. produces, at best, one million metric tons a year of primary metal, it consumes six times that amount.

 

Follow the author on Twitter @RussellReports.

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