OTTAWA, June 12, 2018 /CNW/ - The United Steelworkers (USW) today urged the Canadian government to act swiftly to impose retaliatory tariffs on steel, aluminum and other imports from the United States and to support Canadian workers and communities affected by U.S. tariffs.
"Our union joins with many of the country's steel producers in expressing concern that the counter-measures should be implemented as soon as possible," USW National Director Ken Neumann stated in a submission to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Department of Finance officials.
The USW submission is part of the Canadian government's consultation process on its plan to impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. imports, as of July 1. The Trudeau government announced its proposed counter-measures after U.S. President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum on June 1.
Canada should not wait until July 1 to respond to the unjustified U.S. tariffs, says the USW, which represents thousands of steel and aluminum workers across the country.
"The one-month delay in the imposition of the counter-measures is already harming Canada's economy, as certain customers may be making decisions during these weeks that will disadvantage Canada producers. We would urge the government to implement the counter-measures as soon as possible," Neumann said.
The Canadian government must proceed with its full schedule of proposed tariffs on a wide range of U.S. imports, with no exemptions, the USW says.
"We are concerned that some producers may have proposed exemptions for certain products ... We would strongly encourage the government to reject any requests for exemptions," Neumann said.
"In order for the counter-measures to be effective, they must be comprehensive. Granting exemptions will make the measures less effective and will not effectively send the message to the U.S. administration that the aluminum and steel tariffs imposed by the U.S. should be removed as soon as possible."
The USW also is calling for further action from the federal government to strengthen its trade remedy systems and to support Canadian workers and communities affected by the U.S. tariffs and unfair and predatory trade practices of other countries.
"Canada's steelworkers need support similar to what was afforded to Quebec's aluminum workers and Canada's forestry workers," Neumann said. "The government of Quebec has offered $100 million in loan guarantees to support the aluminum industry based in that province. Canadian steel communities are already hurting, and they need an assistance package to assist steelworkers and their communities who are faced with temporary layoffs as a result of these tariffs."
The USW supports recent measures announced by the federal government to combat unfair trade, "but we submit that more must be done," Neumann said.
"Of great concern for Canadian workers is that U.S. tariffs will amplify Canada's exposure to unfair imports originating offshore. If the world's dumped and subsidized steel and aluminum cannot find a home in the United States, it will surely find its way into the Canadian market," he said.
"Canada must immediately take steps to protect Canadian steel and aluminum imports from the diversion of cheap imports from the U.S. into Canada. The Canadian government must be prepared to utilize existing policy tools, including targeted government-initiated, WTO-compatible safeguard actions and government-initiated trade cases to preserve the stability of the Canadian market and prevent a surge of steel and aluminum imports into Canada."
The USW leadership in Canada and the U.S. has unanimously condemned the Trump administration's tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum and continues to lobby the American government for permanent exemptions for Canada.
"We strongly believe that Canada should be exempt from any steel and aluminum tariffs, and the new tariffs will hurt workers on both sides of the border," Neumann said.
"The decision not to exempt Canada ignores the fact that Canada's steel and aluminum exports to the U.S. are also fairly traded and that Canada has shown its willingness to strengthen its laws as well as its co-operation with the U.S. to fight unfair trade."
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)
For further information: Ken Neumann, USW National Director, 416-544-5951; Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, firstname.lastname@example.org
The USW is the largest private sector union in both Canada and North America with more than 225,000 members in Canada and more than 800,000 members continent-wide. The USW is Canada's most diverse union, representing men and women working in every sector of the economy.