Provinces Want Tariffs On U.S. Goods Removed

CBJ — Both the Ontario and Quebec governments are calling on the federal government to drop retaliatory tariffs against the United States, as part of an olive branch to the Americans in the hopes they would reciprocate by doing away with levies on steel and aluminum.

The tariffs were imposed last year by the U.S. to address what it views as the world’s overproduction and overcapacity of steel.

The Canadian government has faced criticism since signing on to the new USMCA trade deal, an updated replacement for NAFTA, which had been in effect for more than 20 years. There was nothing in that new USMCA deal that secured any guarantees that the U.S. would lift its tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Ottawa has applied retaliatory tariffs on $16.6-billion worth of U.S. imports of steel, aluminum and other products, but it pales in comparison to the trade Canada loses going the other way due to harsh levies.

As a goodwill gesture, Ontario Premier Doug has suggested the federal government should drop the tariffs first. Critics say there is no guarantee such a move would lead to the Americans following suit.

Government officials in Ontario and Quebec have sent a joint letter to federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau, calling on Ottawa to secure the permanent removal of all tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum.