Remarks by the Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade on the removal of U.S. tariffs on Canadian aluminum


September 15, 2020 - Ottawa, Ontario

Check against delivery. This speech has been translated in accordance with the Government of Canada’s official languages policy and edited for posting and distribution in accordance with its communications policy.

On August 6, the United States announced its decision to re-impose unjustified and unacceptable section 232 tariffs on Canadian aluminum products. Let me be clear- those tariffs were unacceptable and unjustified.

Canada is not a threat to U.S national security. Canadian aluminum strengthens U.S. national security and has done so for decades through unparalleled cooperation between our 2 countries. Aluminum trade between Canada and the U.S. has long been mutually beneficial for both our countries, and tariffs would have harmed workers and industry on both sides of the border, disrupting linked supply chains that have made North American aluminum more competitive around the world.

Our government stood strongly for workers and the industry by immediately announcing our intention to impose dollar-for-dollar countermeasures in a direct, measured and proportional response to these tariffs, following consultations with Canadian business, organizations, provincial and territorial partners and with individual Canadians.

Today, the United States announced their intention to drop these tariffs on imports of Canadian aluminum retroactive to September the 1st 2020. Canada welcomes this decision. It’s a testament to the Team Canada approach as we all worked relentlessly to ensure these unjustified tariffs on Canadian aluminum were removed.

I want to thank provincial governments, workers and the Canadian aluminum industry, who worked together with our government as one Team Canada to defend the interests of Canada’s critical aluminum workers and the aluminum industry. By sticking together and holding firm, we achieved the outcome that Canada wanted on behalf of hard-working Canadians in the aluminum industry.

That’s why I can announce today, Canada will not be imposing reciprocal countermeasures on the United States. Let me be clear—Canada has not conceded anything. We fully retain our right to impose our countermeasures if the U.S. administration decides to re-imposes its tariffs on Canadian aluminum products, and we’re prepared to do so. Canada’s motto has always been we will not escalate but we will also not back down.

I have spoken to the representatives of the Canadian aluminum industry to inform them of this positive development and to assure them that Canada will always stand up for our aluminum workers and the entire industry. The last several months have been incredibly difficult for Canadians, and facing this time of great uncertainty, we have worked with countries around the world to keep people safe and to ensure our businesses are supported.

At a time when our business owners and workers on both sides of the border have been facing severe economic hardship, these tariffs were the last things that they needed. Furthermore, with the new NAFTA coming into force – July 1st of last year, the fact is that we must work together to boost competitiveness in North America.

Through robust new rules of origin for automobiles, the new NAFTA ensures 70% of aluminum purchased by North American automakers is produced in North America. Canada’s market-driven aluminum industry will continue to respond to the demands of consumers and of our shared North American integrated value chain as it has in the past.

Canada has always been and will remain the most stable and reliable source of aluminum supply for the United States, and now is the time to work together to advance the North American competitiveness with free trade under the new NAFTA. 

To the thousands of hard-working Canadians in the aluminum industry, we have your back. We will always defend you, the entire aluminum industry and Canadian interests. I will now turn to the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland. Thank you. 

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