USW to Trump: Exempt Canada from Tariffs

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

The Steelworkers have a sharp message for GOP President Donald Trump: Keep Canada out of your worldwide “national security” tariffs on steel and aluminum. But Trump isn’t listening.

Instead, after a month-long grace period when foreign nations could seek exemptions, from his edict, the Oval Office occupant extended his global 25 percent steel tariffs and 10 percent aluminum tariffs to Canada, Mexico and the European Union nations.

The Canadians, who are the biggest U.S. trading partners, were upset. So was Mexico. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called Trump’s ruling “a turning point in the U.S.-Canada relationship” and said his nation would retaliate with its own tariffs on U.S. steel, aluminum, toilet paper, playing cards and other products. Added French President Emmanuel Macron: “You can’t solve trade imbalances through outdated policies of economic nationalism.”

The USW represents steel and aluminum workers in Canada as well as the U.S., and millions of tons of those two products cross the border, especially in Michigan, to be used for U.S.-made cars and trucks.

Trump justified the tariffs on national security grounds. USW Legislative Director Holly Hart said imposing that reason on Canada is “unacceptable.” USW Canadian National Director Ken Neumann previously said evidence presented to Trump makes it “clear that Canadian steel and aluminum imports are not part of the problem the U.S. administration is trying to address through its Section 232 (national security and trade) investigation.”

“Our history shows there is no stronger ally and partner on national security than Canada,” Hart said. Trump “ignores that Canada’s steel and aluminum exports to the United States are fairly traded and that Canada has shown its willingness to strengthen its laws as well as its cooperation with the United States to fight unfair trade.”

While the USW has worked with Trump’s trade officials “to develop, design and deploy trade policies that will strengthen our manufacturing base, increase employment and enhance our national security…it has become increasingly difficult to understand the reasoning behind certain decisions and policies,” Hart explained.

She also warned the tariffs could boomerang, because the new sanctions against Canada and Europe don’t affect the real overproducer: China. The administration’s prior actions led Europe and Canada to join the U.S. in pressuring China to cut its flood of dumped steel. Canadian cooperation “is at risk now,” Hart said.

“The regular chaos surrounding our flawed trade policies is undermining the ability to project a reasoned course and ensure we can improve domestic production and employment,” she said.

So far, Hart added, Trump’s “trade policies have led to confusion, higher trade deficits and no real success in changing the practices of our trading partners. Ultimately, the goal is not a tariff barrier, but a stronger America… Today’s decision is wrongheaded.”