Ontario opposes new U.S. tariffs on Canadian aluminum imports

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Premier Doug Ford opposes new tariffs about to be slapped on Canadian aluminum by the U.S.

“We are disappointed that the U.S. has re-imposed tariffs on imports of aluminum products from Canada, particularly at a time when our trade partnership will be essential to our economic recovery,” Ford said in a statement. “These tariffs undermine the benefits of the highly integrated U.S.-Ontario trading relationship that are set to continue under the new Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA).”

The global uses of aluminum in 2018 included: automotive and transportation (24 per cent), construction (23 per cent), consumer goods (14 per cent), foil and packaging (13 per cent), electrical engineering and electronics (11 per cent), machinery and equipment (9 per cent), and other applications (6 per cent).

Ontario does $390 billion in two-way trade with the U.S. every year – the top customer of 19 U.S. states and the second top customer to 11 others. Last year, Ontario purchased $2.3 billion in aluminum products from the U.S., supporting hundreds of American jobs and businesses.

“As one of the U.S.’ top customers, these tariffs hurt the mutual prosperity and security that has benefitted our two nations for centuries,” Ford said.

“While these re-imposed tariffs will have a damaging impact on Ontario businesses, workers and consumers, they will also hurt American businesses and consumers.”

According to statements from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, ‘bringing back these tariffs would be like a bad horror movie. Most of the U.S. aluminum sector opposes them, and they’ll hurt American manufacturers who use aluminum as an input.’

This sentiment was echoed by The Aluminum Association, which represents more than 120 U.S. companies across the entire industry value chain, saying ‘this dynamic is hurting aluminum workers today’ and ‘efforts to ‘Blame Canada’ miss the mark.’

“We welcome the federal government’s commitment to defend the interests of Ontario’s aluminum sector and businesses in Canada and the U.S.,” Ford said.

“We urge them to press the U.S. administration for immediate and permanent removal of its tariffs on Canadian aluminum, and to ensure that no other trade impediments such as quotas are introduced.”

The Premier says Ontario will continue its engagement with our federal and state partners from the U.S. to draw attention to the negative impacts of the tariffs, as well as emphasize the mutual benefits of free and open trade.

The economic downturn resulting from COVID-19 is an even greater incentive to maintain our longstanding and positive trade relationships and ensure Ontario businesses have access to the world’s markets.

“The U.S. imposition of tariffs on imports from Canada will negatively impact economic recovery efforts and hurt workers in the U.S. and Canada,” Ford concluded. “Strengthening our unique trading partnership will only ensure that everyday consumers, workers and businesses can emerge from this period of economic uncertainty in a position of strength.”

Ontario exports of aluminum and aluminum products totalled approximately $2.6 billion CAD in 2019, of which 94 per cent was exported to the U.S.

Nearly one in five Ontario jobs depend on trade, and approximately $400 billion CAD in merchandise trade travels across the U.S. and Canadian border in Ontario every year.

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