Canada considers steel safeguards, announces industry consultations

steel safeguards canada
Rebar is one of seven steel products facing possible trade safeguards in Canada.

The government of Canada has announced public consultations with the country’s steel stakeholders as it considers new safeguards on imports of several steel products.

Steel plate, used in the manufacturing of heavy machinery, is one of the products facing safeguards.

Safeguards are trade measures that respond to import surges that may harm Canadian producers and workers. The government will continue to work with stakeholders to determine if additional products may be considered for safeguard action, and is committed to applying new safeguards where circumstances warrant their application.

The government will conduct 15 days of formal consultations before making any decision.

“The Government will always stand up for Canadian workers and Canadian businesses, and that means taking action to counter unfair trade practices when merited,” said Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

“International trade unquestionably strengthens Canada’s economy, but it must be fair and open, and it must result in growth that works for everyone.”

Products that may be subject to safeguards include:

  • Steel plate
  • Rebar
  • Energy tubular products
  • Hot-rolled sheet
  • Pre-painted steel
  • Stainless steel wire
  • Wire rod

Safegaurds could cause steel shortage

The Canadian Coalition for Construction Steel (CCCS) is urging the federal government to make evidence-based decisions on any new action on imported steel products. The coalition warns changes could create steel shortages for the Canadian construction industry, impact major building projects, and put more than 60,000 jobs at risk in the construction sector alone.

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“We had urged the Government of Canada to engage in broad-based consultations before taking any new action, and we look forward to engaging constructively on this critical issue,” said Jesse Goldman, legal counsel to CCCS.

“We are confident that when the government has all the evidence, it will conclude that steel production in Canada is not at risk. Even if that changes at some point, there are already ample restrictions for unfairly traded steel.”

Goldman noted that while it is important to keep Canada’s steel mills in business, government should not jeopardize the country’s construction sector, which employs about 1.2 million people. He added that any safeguards need to ensure an adequate supply of construction steel.

“We are certain that – in the broader public interest of all Canadians – the government will make an evidence-based decision that balances the interests of producers and users,” Goldman said.

According to the CCCS, Canadian steel mills have the capacity to supply only about 50 per cent of domestic demand for construction steel. Historically, roughly half the balance has come from the United States and the rest from outside North America.

Supply issues for construction steel are particularly acute in British Columbia and Atlantic Canada, due to prohibitive overland transportation costs from Canadian mills located mainly in Ontario and Quebec.

About 90 per cent of construction steel used in BC comes from the United States or Asia, and all of Newfoundland’s supply is foreign.