Rapid Policy Update: Federal Government investments to strengthen Canada’s Trade Enforcement Capabilities, Steel & Aluminum Industries

· by Huzaifa Saeed

April 26th, 2018, Hamilton, ON: Earlier today, the Federal Government announced an increase in funding for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and Global Affairs Canada to further strengthen Canada’s trade enforcement. The new funding – more than $30 million over five years, starting immediately, and $6.8 million per year after that – will mean more than 40 new officers to investigate trade-related complaints, including those related to steel and aluminum.

The enhancements will help prevent transshipment and dumping of unfairly priced foreign steel and aluminum into the North American market. The investments are a critical enhancement to Canada’s ability to respond to a diversion of steel dumping into its market in the aftermath of President Donald Trump’s Global Steel Tariffs last month.

The release also stated that the investments would allow for the gathering of more accurate data on imports to help the government better monitor trade trends and conduct remedy investigations.

In addition to the new funding, the Government of Canada is/has:

  • Further aligning Canada’s marking regime with that of our closest trading partner, the United States. Regulatory changes – subject to a 15-day consultation period through the Canada Gazette – will expand the scope of steel and aluminum products that need to be marked with their country of origin.
  • Brought into effect legislative enhancements to the Special Import Measures Act on March 27, 2018. First announced as part of Budget 2017, these include regulatory changes that allow the CBSA to: “identify and stop companies that try to avoid duties, and that give the CBSA greater flexibility to determine whether prices charged in the exporter’s domestic market are distorted. They also include measures to give unions standing to participate in trade remedy proceedings.”

The Government of Canada is also planning on regularly consulting with provincial-territorial representatives, as well as industry and union stakeholders, through recently established trade monitoring committees on steel and aluminum to ensure imports do not hurt Canadian and North American jobs.

Hamilton Chamber reaction: Our organization is appreciative of the Government’s investments and believe that the enhancements will signal greater security to the steel and aluminum industry in Hamilton in our Government’s ability to protect its borders against unfair trading practices. The timing of the announcement also creates optimism as the NAFTA negotiations enter their final stage, with Canada’s Steel and Aluminum Tariff exemptions set to expire on May 1st.

In partnership with other Chambers and the Canadain Steel Producers Association, we had previously urged the government to address expectations by the United States Government for Canada to improve its capabilities in addressing steel dumping and regulatory alignment within the North American Steel and Aluminium Supply Chains.

Specifically, within our letter to Prime Minister Trudeau on March 13th, as well as previous advocacy efforts, we recommended the following:

  1. Immediately bring into law relevant sections of Bill C-44 addressing enhancements to the Special Import Measures Act.
  2. Provide the CBSA with immediate enhancements to organizational resources to respond fairly, expeditiously, and transparently to unfair trading practices using both increased remedy and pricing investigations, timely and accurate tribunal processes and other tools available to it to meet our regulatory compliance obligations under NAFTA and the WTO.

We are supportive of the Federal Government’s response in addressing both those priorities and will continue working with our members, Chambers of Commerce and Steel Producers to monitor activity and to push for fair and open trade in Steel and Aluminum in North America.

For more information, please contact: Huzaifa Saeed | Policy & Research Analyst | Hamilton Chamber of Commerce | t: 905-522-1151 ext: 230 | e: h.saeed@hamiltonchamber.ca