Letter to Ministers Freeland and Bains Regarding US Steel and Aluminum Tariffs

Published on February 04, 2019

This is the letter sent jointly from Hon. Todd Smith, Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, and Hon. Pierre Fitzgibbon, Québec Minister of Economy and Innovation to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Chrystia Freeland, and the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Hon. Navdeep Bains regarding US tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum.


Dear Ministers Freeland and Bains,

In the wake of the signing of the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement, Québec and Ontario remain deeply concerned that the U.S. Administration has not yet removed its unjustified tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from Canada.
These tariffs are adversely and disproportionately impacting the steel and aluminium sectors in Ontario and Québec. Given the significant contribution of Ontario and Québec to Canada’s overall economic output, continued trade disruptions that negatively impact our provinces will have a negative impact on Canada’s economy as a whole.

In 2017, Ontario and Québec accounted for 91 per cent of Canadian steel exports and 92 per cent of Canadian aluminium exports to the U.S. As the tariffs remain in place, we are witnessing an impact not just on our steel and aluminium producers, but also on the broader manufacturing sector. Many other significant industries, such as automotive, construction, energy and aerospace, which rely on access to affordable steel and aluminium to stay globally competitive, are now feeling the ripple effects of these tariffs.

We acknowledge the work Canada has already done in pursuit of the removal of the U.S. tariffs, as well as the introduction of retaliatory tariffs, safeguards, and support measures for affected industries. Alongside these efforts, Québec and Ontario have also been actively engaging with our U.S. counterparts and U.S. businesses to clearly outline the negative impacts of the tariffs on both sides of the border, while emphasizing the mutual benefits of free and open trade. However, should the U.S. tariffs persist, and in the absence of sufficient sector supports, industry will likely be forced to take more drastic action that will negatively impact Québec and Ontario’s businesses, workers and families.

It is essential that the Government of Canada secure the permanent removal of any and all tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminium. At the same time, it is important that Canada not agree to an outcome that would see other trade impediments such as quotas continue to restrict trade and hamper the competitiveness and growth of Canadian industry. Québec and Ontario strongly encourage the Canadian government to review its support options and consider additional compensation for impacted business and workers beyond the measures previously announced.

Our governments are committed to supporting these strategically significant sectors and to ensuring that our steel and aluminium industries remain globally competitive. Ontario and Québec will always stand up for their industries, businesses and workers.
We look forward to continuing our collaborative efforts and discussing this urgent matter with you further.