Sault Ste. Marie, ON – The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce (SSMCOC) has been monitoring recent news that Canadian steel was not excluded in last week’s U.S. Commerce Department announcement that it intends to suggest a wide range of tariffs and quotas on imported steel and aluminum from an undisclosed number of countries. The Chamber is also concerned that even if Canadian steel ultimately wins an exemption, the Ontario government’s proposal to introduce a bill that would allow for retaliatory measures against states that adopt “Buy American” provisions might still result in Ontario’s steel industry getting caught-up in subnational trade disputes.
“The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce was in Ottawa twice last year along with some of Canada’s largest steel producers, appearing before the Standing Committee on International Trade and before the All-Party Parliamentary Steel Caucus,” notes Rory Ring, CEO of the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce. “Together, we made a strong argument of exactly how important the steel industry is to both our community and the national economy.”
The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce will be delivering a similar message to the provincial government next week when it takes part in the Ontario Chamber network’s Advocacy Day at Queen’s Park. Ring, along with Acting Chamber President Don Mitchell, will be representing the local Chamber in a series of meetings with partly leaders and provincial ministers.
Mitchell states that the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce will be in discussions with its members in the steel industry, with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and with provincial Chamber counterparts with members in the steel industry to formulate a response to possible U.S. tariffs on steel.
He suggests that “with a highly integrated supply chain between Canada and United States, we simply cannot afford a disruptive trade and tariff war between our countries or between Ontario and specific states. With the U.S. effectively closing the door on many of the countries that it accuses of ‘dumping’ cheaper product, Canada could also see a surge in these products arriving here.”
At the provincial level, The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has written directly to state Chambers in Texas, Oregon, California, Ohio, Colorado, New York, Kentucky, Michigan, and Indiana, asking them to work together in pursuing bilateral agreements through our respective state and provincial governments.
Rocco Rossi, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), released the following statement on the Ontario government’s proposed retaliatory legislation on trade: “Positive diplomatic relations should always be our priority when it comes to trade discussions. With the Fairness in Procurement Act, we understand that the Government’s intention is to respond to barriers rather than escalate them. However, we are concerned with any approach that risks escalation of trade barriers, especially when it is taken only by Ontario. No other province in Canada has legislation in place that would escalate trade sanctions when they occur.”
He notes that the Ontario Chamber of Commerce believes that the best approach for Ontario is the formation of positive bilateral cooperation with our American neighbours.
In addition to voicing its concerns on the steel industry during next week’s Queen’s Park agenda, Ring and Mitchell also hope to spur discussion on fair and open tendering and offsets to help businesses cope with the dramatic increase in labour and other costs associated with the implementation of Bill 148.
Mitchell adds that they will also be strongly advocating that the Ontario Government take steps to assist with bringing a resolution to the ongoing CCAA process that has been hindering local steel-maker, Algoma.