Rapid Policy Update: Steel and Aluminum Industry Tariffs Proposed by President Donald Trump

· by Huzaifa Saeed

An Important Message on Proposed Steel Tariffs

Over the last three years, we have been working with our colleagues in the Canadian Chamber of Commerce network and the Canadian Steel Producers Association to address unfair market practices and steel being dumped into Canada by non-market producers. 

The steel industry is the backbone of the Hamilton economy, supporting almost 10,000 direct and over 30,000 indirect jobs in our community. Through constant innovation, our steel has remained globally competitive while operating on a clean electricity grid and adhering to high environmental and labour standards.

According to media reports, President Trump unexpectedly decided to make a tariff announcement on February 27th, without any notice to several US Government departments, a legal review or diplomatic plan. A global tariff of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum was announced to the press. President Trump is now promising a formal executive order later this week or next.

Impact on Canada
Despite our highly integrated supply chains, the fact Canada imports as much steel from the US as the US imports from Canada, and our role as one of America’s closest military allies, there has been no talk of Canada being given an exemption. Upon hearing the announcement, we immediately began engagement with our steel-producing members, partner chambers, government officials and the media to share our significant concerns about the local and national economic impacts resulting from these tariffs. Most steel businesses in Hamilton have at least 50% of their exports going to the United States.

The impact of a 25% tariff will cause significant disruption to North American supply chains, eroding competitive advantages Canada might have had (e.g.: dollar value). We also highlighted the rise in consumer prices that should occur on both sides of the border. For our recovering steel industry, a long-term tariff could mean jobs will be lost, pensions could be threatened and a big chill on investment.

Our Recommendations for the Federal Government 

  1. To seek a full exclusion for Canada from any tariffs imposed.
  2. Implement “surge” remedies and upgrade Canada Border Service resources to prevent Canada from becoming an alternative dumping ground for foreign steel.
  3. The inclusion of steel in NAFTA auto rules of origin.
  4. Prepare to retaliate with a 25% tariff on US steel imported to Canada.
  5. Continue to file trade cases on a product-by-product, country-by-country basis at the WTO.

Given Hamilton’s position as Canada’s Steel Town, we have had tremendous interest from local, national and international media over the past week. We will continue to champion our domestic steel industry.




Next Steps

We will continue monitoring developments as they happen, engaging our members, elected officials while working with the Candian Chamber Network and other allies.

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