Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said repeatedly over the last few weeks that Canada takes the threat posed by foreign steel and aluminum just as seriously as the United States and on Tuesday, announced new measures to prove it.
In a statement shared with reporters Tuesday morning, the Prime Minister’s Office said the government is bringing forward new regulations to crack down on countries like China that dump their steel and aluminum in foreign markets at unfairly cheap prices.
“Canada is a trading nation, and we will not allow North American industries to be hurt or threatened by unfair trade practices, like the diversion of steel and aluminum,” said Trudeau in the statement.
“Our businesses and workers rely on our integrated industries, and we will take strong action to defend and protect our most important trade relationships. Canada will not be used as a backdoor into other North American markets. Our people have worked hard to be competitive in this global economy, and they deserve a level playing field.”
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The regulatory changes, listed in the Canada Gazette, will be subject to a 15-day consultation period before going into effect.
The new measures give the Canada Border Services Agency the authority to conduct investigations into companies that try to dodge duties through practices like slightly modifying products or assembling them in Canada.
The agency will also get more flexibility when it comes to calculating the duties that must be paid by taking into account whether the prices charged in the exporter’s domestic market are distorted.
Domestic market prices are used in the process of calculating duties for goods coming into Canada from abroad.
As well, unions will be able to participate in proceedings at venues like the Canadian International Trade Tribunal into whether foreign exports hurt domestic Canadian producers.
The statement also said the government plans to have North American border agency officials meet more often and share more information about what they are doing to enforce the rules.
“We will also urgently undertake a review to make sure our enforcement agencies have all the resources they need to take action on unfair trade,” the statement reads.
As well, the government plans to meet more often with officials from the U.S. and Mexico, and participate in new federal-provincial-territorial-stakeholder committees on the issue of dumped steel and aluminum.
On March 1, U.S. President Donald Trump announced he would impose a 25 per cent tariff on foreign steel a 10 per cent duty on imported aluminum.
That news sent stock markets tumbling.
Trudeau and his ministers slammed the decision, saying it “makes no sense” and was “absolutely unacceptable.”
But after securing a temporary exemption from the tariffs for Canada, Trudeau switched gears to stress how seriously Canada also views the threat from foreign steel and vowed to work with the U.S. to crack down on countries that try to dump their excess steel and aluminum in North America.
It remains unclear whether Canada will secure a permanent exemption to the tariffs, which Trump has attempted to use as leverage to get both Canada and Mexico to capitulate to his demands in renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).