PITTSBURGH, TORONTO, MONTREAL, April 27, 2017 /CNW/ - Canada must be excluded from a U.S. government investigation into whether aluminum imports are harming America's national security, United Steelworkers (USW) leaders in both countries say.
"The action will help identify the importance of aluminum but it may not identify the right response: China's overcapacity is swamping world markets, driving down prices and making some operations unprofitable," said Leo W. Gerard, USW International President.
"China's the problem, not Canada or other countries which are following the rules. Our goal should be fair trade, not just walling off the U.S. market. That's what the Steelworkers have fought for, for years," Gerard said.
The USW represents thousands of workers in the aluminum industry in Canada and the U.S.
Today U.S. President Donald Trump has ordered an investigation into the impact of aluminum imports on America's national security, a move that could lead to the imposition of tariffs or restrictions on aluminum imports.
The United Steelworkers will be making submissions to the Trump administration and U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to argue that the investigation and any resulting action should not target the Canadian aluminum industry.
"Canadian aluminum, like Canadian steel, is not a threat to American national security. Quite on the contrary, the Canadian industry is a stable and reliable source of aluminum, in close proximity to the American market. It's a valuable asset coming from a close ally to the United States," said USW Canadian Director Ken Neumann.
"It's important that these investigations by the Trump administration do not miss their real targets," Neumann said. "We will ensure that our message is heard in Washington and that the voices of Canadian workers are taken into account in this process."
Neumann also noted the reaction earlier this week from various American groups that raised concern over the potentially harmful impact to the U.S. construction sector of the Trump administration's announcement of tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber imports.
An estimated 60% of U.S. aluminum imports originate from Canada, primarily from Quebec.
"We understand that right now, this file is in the investigation stage in Washington. We will make sure that we are heard so that Quebec workers and families do not become collateral victims of the desire in the U.S. to support its own viable aluminum industry," said the Steelworkers' Quebec Director, Alain Croteau.
"Quebec aluminum is not in competition with aluminum made in the United States, but with production from other countries with questionable environmental standards that operate with coal-fired power," Croteau said.
Today's announcement by the American president demands a strong and unequivocal response from the Government of Canada to defend the Canadian aluminum sector, the USW says.
"The prime minister and his government must act resolutely and decisively to defend fair trade and the thousands of Canadian families whose livelihoods depend on the aluminum industry," Neumann said.
"The Government of Canada should work with the U.S. in fighting against Chinese unfair and predatory trade practices, including circumvention and evasion of trade laws in both our countries. China and other countries that break the rules must not be allowed to injure workers in either of our countries."
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)
For further information: Ken Neumann, USW National Director, 416-544-5951; Bob Gallagher, USW Communications (Toronto), 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, [email protected]; Clairandrée Cauchy, USW Communications (Montreal), 514-774-4001, [email protected]