Freeland talks steel at Evraz following end of U.S. tariffs

Click to play video 'Foreign Affairs Minister visits Evraz as steel tariffs lift' Foreign Affairs Minister visits Evraz as steel tariffs lift
WATCH: The end of American steel tariffs clears an export hurdle for Saskatchewan, but there are still headwinds for Prairie commodities. David Baxter reports – May 22, 2019

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland received a warm welcome at Regina’s Evraz steel mill, two days after the end of 25 per cent tariffs on Canadian steel.

“This has been a really difficult issue, and at the end of the day we got it resolved,” Freeland said in an address to Evraz employees.

The end of these tariffs, which includes a 10 per cent tariff on aluminum products, is a win for Canada but there are still some steel headwinds.

On Aug. 27, 2018, preliminary duties were placed on steel. Evraz North America CEO Conrad Winkler said this, on top of the other steel tariff, meant a near 50 per cent duty was placed on Regina pipe going to the States.

READ MORE: Evraz workers feel sense of job security with end of U.S. tariffs

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Through negations with the U.S. Department of Commerce, that additional duty has been reduced to 12 per cent.

“Going from 49 to 12 per cent, I feel pretty good about that improvement. So we’re taking a moment right now to take a deep breath and enjoy that moment,” Winkler said.

“That being said, 12 per cent is tough for us to absorb. It’s tough for us to compete every day.”

On the Brightside, Winkler said he’s received several calls from clients excited about the end of the American section 232 tariffs on aluminum and steel.

Freeland said both Canadians and American Senators like Chuck Grassley said they would not ratify the new U.S., Mexico and Canada trade agreement (USMCA) if these tariffs remained in place.

READ MORE: Canada will move quickly to ratify new NAFTA: Freeland

On the other steel duties, Freeland said there were trade “irritants” with NAFTA and expects those to continue. She pointed to the dispute resolution mechanism that will carry over to the USMCA as a potential solution.

Freeland noted that the 232 tariffs remain in place for many other countries, putting Canada in a unique situation going forward.

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“We need to now – working in cooperation with our U.S. partners, working in cooperation with unions, working in cooperation with industry – to take a very careful look at what is the world market in steel doing now in this frankly unprecedented situation and what are the measures Canada needs to take in response,” Freeland said.

Down Stateside, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is in Washington D.C. Originally, he was going to be meeting with American politicians, including Grassley, to talk tariffs. Moe said meetings like this have taken a more celebratory tone.

READ MORE: Retaliatory tariffs were key to getting U.S. to lift steel and aluminum levies: Trudeau

Now, talks have taken a greater focus on advocating for the American ratification of the USMCA.

“The steel and aluminum tariffs being removed provide us with the opportunity to engage with both sides, the Democratic house and senate members and Republican house and senate members, on the path to ratification here,” Moe said.

Moe added he is comfortable with Canada ratifying the USMCA, as long as the 232 tariffs are not applied to uranium.