Trump administration urged to permanently exempt Canada from steel tariffs

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The Associated Equipment Distributors’ (AED) and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers’ (AEM) have partnered to urge the Trump administration to permanently exempt Canadian steel from tariffs.

In a joint letter to President Donald Trump, AED President and CEO Brian McGuire and AEM President Dennis Slater applauded efforts to maintain strong cross-border relations with Canada while also warning of the detrimental impact to United States and Canadian equipment manufacturers from trade uncertainty.

“Your administration’s decision to grant temporary exemption of tariffs on Canadian steel imports is strongly supported by our members. The U.S. and Canada maintain a tightly integrated market for steel,” McGuire and Slater wrote in the letter. “Canada has competitively-priced steel production and is taking measures to stop the transshipment of lower-priced steel from other countries. We strongly urge you to grant Canada permanent exemption from U.S. steel tariffs to create market certainty, economic growth and avoid economic harm to our industry on both sides of the border.”

The letter also urges the Trump administration to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), instead of cancelling the deal entirely. AED and AEM explain the United States records a $3 billion a year trade surplus in heavy equipment with Canada and Mexico.

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“Scrapping the accord would be detrimental to equipment dealers and manufacturers throughout the United States,” McGuire and Slater explain. “We applaud your efforts to update the agreement in a way that strengthens trade and investment in the North American market, while maintaining current market access for all three trading partners.”

The letter also offers advice on how to modernize the trade agreement. McGuire and Slater suggested negotiators focus on cross-border labour mobility to help alleviate significant skilled worker shortages in both countries.

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“Americans and Canadians alike have difficulty crossing the border to perform highly-specialized machinery repairs and servicing,” they wrote. “By including construction equipment service technicians in NAFTA’s International Mobility Program, we can overcome this challenge and have a positive economic impact for our industry.”

Both AED and AEM have American and Canadian members.

To read the letter in its entirety, click here.