The US Steelworkers’ Union asked the US president to introduce a 50% surcharge on the price of aluminum imported into the country. If such a measure is adopted, it could jeopardize the Canadian aluminum industry.
The application of American Steelworkers (Steelworkers) was formulated in the last few days. A petition was sent to the White House so that President Barack Obama to intervene quickly in the price of imported aluminum. According to Rio Tinto Aluminium (RTA), this is the first time such a request is filed for the aluminum industry.
Faced with numerous job losses and US plant closures, the Steelworkers have seen the introduction of a surcharge the solution to return the aluminum industry in the United States on track. However, the surcharge could have catastrophic repercussions on Canada’s, believes RTA.
Currently, 65% of the gray metal produced in Canada is exported to the United States, the vast majority occurred in Quebec. If the application of Steelworkers passed, it would be surcharged 65% to 50%.
“If, for example, we have a customer in the US paying our aluminum $ 1,500 a tonne, he will now have to shell out $ 2,200. Do you think it will still be interested in importing aluminum products outside the United States? “, Gives the example of RTA spokeswoman Claudine Gagnon, during an interview with the Daily, Wednesday .
She said the surcharge simply put Canadian industry at risk. “Several other sectors could be affected, including the automotive sector. We take this news with great seriousness and we are very concerned, “said Claudine Gagnon.
RTA obviously will closely monitor the case and the situation is currently being studied. “We also analyze the potential impacts of this surcharge on our business,” said the spokesman RTA, without going into details of possible scenarios.
On the side of the Aluminum Association of Canada, President, John Smith, said he was surprised and dismayed by demand Steelworkers. Without wanting to speculation about the potential impact of the surcharge on the industry, Mr. Simard said the impact would be great.
“We are currently in discussions with the federal and provincial governments to see what we can do. This is a very complex issue, “said John Smith, in a telephone interview.
The holding of an international trade commission is needed to move forward in the introduction of a surcharge. It is then the president of the United States, Barack Obama, which normally go in the same direction as the findings of the commission. Under section 201 of the US Trade Act, the Commission 60 days after the filing of the petition to make a preliminary decision. President Obama will then have a period of 30 days to make its decision.
About 6,500 American workers in the aluminum sector have been laid off since 2011. At that time, production was four times greater than today.
Canada among target
While Rio Tinto Aluminium and the Association of Canadian aluminum sounding the alarm about the application of US Steelworkers, the regional director of the FTQ, Marc Maltais, believes that Canada will not be affected by this surcharge possible on ‘import.
Marc Maltais was made aware of the filing of the petition by the Steelworkers The Daily. He took the time to read the articles published about it in the Globe and Mail and the New York Times, before making his own checks. “From what I understand, this surcharge is mainly Chinese producers, who sell a tonne below the price set by the London Metal Exchange (LME), which is currently $ 1,500. Obviously, we’ll monitor this issue, but, by checking with the USW, that’s what I understand, “said Marc Maltais.
Requestionnée about it, the spokesman RTA, Claudine Gagnon, said that Canada was indeed one of the targets of American workers. Besides, flying over the petition of the Steelworkers, the Canadian export is addressed at the 16th page.
“The American union request to President Obama to decide on the addition of a 50% tax to all imported metal in the US. The main countries that export to the US are Canada, Russia, the Middle East and Iceland. Why ask President Obama to impose such a tax for a country that hardly sells metal to the United States? “Said Claudine Gagnon.
Monitor the interests of Quebec
The Quebec government has assured that it will follow the situation closely, regarding the possible introduction of a 50% surcharge on aluminum imported into the United States. Joined Wednesday by The Daily, Office of the Minister of Economy, Dominique Anglade, said that the “government will advance the interests of Quebec in this matter.” For now, the government does not elaborate on the subject, preferring to wait to know more about the possible impacts.