BC disappointed at US aluminum tariffs

PREMIER John Horgan and Michelle Mungall, Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Competitiveness, on Friday called the U.S. decision to impose tariffs on Canadian aluminum exports “disappointing news for the people of British Columbia.”

They noted: “Many people in B.C. earn their living in the aluminum industry. Canada’s exports of aluminum create good, family-supporting jobs and are important to the economy.

“Our aluminum exports do not harm the U.S. market. In fact, U.S.-imposed tariffs will hurt the American economy. We also note much of the U.S. aluminum sector opposes any re-imposition of tariffs.

“It is unfortunate that the U.S. is taking this step at a time when our countries should be celebrating the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement and working together to help each other economically recover from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“We will continue to defend B.C.’s aluminum sector and its workers, and we will stand shoulder to shoulder with the federal government in opposing unfair tariffs placed on our exports.”

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said: “In response to the American tariffs, Canada intends to swiftly impose dollar-for-dollar countermeasures.”  

Canada will impose retaliatory measures valued at $3.6-billion on the US. The retaliatory tariffs will take effect in 30 days, after Canadians are consulted on which American products to target.

Quick Facts

* Every day, nearly US$2 billion worth of goods and services crosses the Canada-US border. In 2019, this amounted to more than US$721 billion in goods and services exchanged between our countries.

* Through robust, new rules of origin for automobiles, the new NAFTA ensures that 70 per cent of the steel and aluminum purchased by North American automakers is produced in North America in order for a vehicle to qualify for duty-free treatment. This provides a competitive advantage for our steel and aluminum workers by ensuring privileged access for Canadian steel and aluminum.

* Canada is the world’s fourth largest aluminum producer, with 2.8 million metric tonnes produced in 2019.

* Canadian aluminum has the lowest carbon footprint compared to other large producers.

* Canada and the United States share a highly integrated aluminum market. Combined bilateral trade in primary and semi-finished aluminum products between 2017 and 2019 averaged C$11.1 billion annually.

* Of more than 162,000 US aluminum industry jobs in mid-and-downstream production, processing, and recycling, 97 per cent depend on a mix of US and imported primary aluminum, mainly from Canada.