he federal government is taking steps to crack down on companies that try to ship cheap foreign steel and aluminum through the Canadian market.
Canada Border Services Agency is being granted extra powers to identify businesses that try to dodge import duties and more flexibility to determine whether prices in countries of origin are reliable or distorted.
Beginning in mid-April, unions will also be allowed to take part in trade-remedy proceedings, including at the Canadian International Trade Tribunal, into whether foreign exports hurt domestic producers.
The regulatory changes come after a period of uncertainty earlier this month over whether the United States would include Canada in its list of countries that would have to pay steep new tariffs on U.S. steel and aluminum imports.
That threat failed to come to fruition following a lobbying effort by Canadian political, business and labour leaders, but the U.S. has suggested the exemption may be tied to the successful conclusion of NAFTA negotiations.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with U.S. President Donald Trump by phone Monday, emphasizing the strong measures Canada is taking to address unfair trade in aluminum and steel.
The trans-shipment and diversion of unfairly cheap foreign steel and aluminum is a threat to Canadian jobs and the North American market.
Canada already has one of the toughest enforcement regimes in the world to combat this practice. We currently have 71 trade remedy measures in force on steel and aluminum imports alone. And we are strengthening enforcement further, to stop foreign exporters from avoiding duties meant to level the playing field.
“While in the Sault the PM and I heard from people at the gates, during the tour of Algoma and at the round table that Canada needed further actions to prevent trans-shipment and diversion of steelto protect steel workers against unfair trade. I am very pleased that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has taken immediately action and continues to stand for steel. “ said, Terry Sheehan, MP Sault Ste. Marie
The following regulatory changes will be brought forward and be subject to a 15-day consultation period through the Canada Gazette:
• New anti-circumvention investigations will allow the Canada Border Services Agency to identify and stop companies that try to dodge duties, for example by slightly modifying products or assembling them in Canada or a third country.
• In calculating duties, the Canada Border Services Agency will have greater flexibility in determining whether prices charged in the exporter’s domestic market, which we use for comparison, are fair or distorted.
• Unions will gain standing to participate in trade-remedy proceedings, including at the Canadian International Trade Tribunal, into whether foreign exports are hurting domestic producers.
In addition, the Government of Canada will:
• Coordinate more closely with our partners to strengthen enforcement at the border, including by increasing the frequency of meetings between border agencies. This will improve the sharing of information, and enforcement action. We will also urgently undertake a review to make sure our enforcement agencies have all the resources they need to take action on unfair trade.
• Look to meet more often with the United States and Mexico to identify and discuss solutions to issues that harm all three countries, including transshipments and diversion, and global overcapacity.
• Participate in new federal-provincial-territorial-stakeholder committees, which will meet regularly to monitor steel and aluminum trade to ensure imports do not hurt Canadian and North American jobs.
These changes form part of what will be a continuous process of making Canada’s anti-diversion and countervail investigations and enforcement more robust, responsive and timely.
We will always stand up for Canadian steel and aluminum workers and the Canadian steel and aluminum industry.
“Canada is a trading nation, and we will not allow North American industries to be hurt or threatened by unfair trade practices, like the diversion of steel and aluminum. Our businesses and workers rely on our integrated industries, and we will take strong action to defend and protect our most important trade relationships. Canada will not be used as a backdoor into other North American markets. Our people have worked hard to be competitive in this global economy, and they deserve a level playing field.” said, Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada.
with files from Canadian Press