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article imageTenaris lays off Canadian workers as Trump steel tariffs bite

By Karen Graham     Jul 1, 2018 in Business
Sault Ste. Marie - Even as Canada's retaliatory tariffs go into effect today against President Trump's tariffs on steel and aluminum - a steel pipe manufacturer in Ontario is temporarily laying off 40 workers, according to a company spokesman.
The Toronto Star is reporting a Tenaris SA spokesman said 40 workers at its mill in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario will be laid off Sunday due to changes in the export market. The announcement of the job cuts was made on Saturday.
David McHattie says the employees were hired at the northern Ontario mill to help with increased demand for the company’s products, including steel pipes. Tenaris says the 25 percent tariffs on steel have created an “unsustainable” market.
Tenaris has operations around the world, and the escalation in the trade dispute is beginning to bite, especially between Canada and the U.S. - straining what has always been a good bilateral relationship.
However, with President Donald Trump repeatedly saying Canada is profiting from U.S. trade, and publicly calling Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “very dishonest and weak” after the G7 meeting, Canada stood up to the insulting tariffs and verbal attacks.
Canadian pipe-making sector
On June 26, Reuters reported that steel pipes and tubes used in drilling and transporting crude oil began flooding into Canada this spring as the Trump steel tariffs forced Asian companies to look for new markets. This alone threatened jobs in the Canadian pipe-making sector.
Hickman facility in Blytheville  Arkansas.
Hickman facility in Blytheville, Arkansas.
A customized data analysis by Reuters showed that non-U.S. imports of drill pipe, casings, and line pipe jumped 90 percent in April from a year earlier and their total value soared 80 percent to $183-million
Interestingly, this latest import spike has come from India and South Korea. Reuters points out that tonnage rose more than value, indicating that average prices fell. However, when Reuters inquired about the imports of steel into Canada from India, India’s Steel Secretary, Aruna Sharma, said India does not export large quantities of steel overseas.
The same thing was happening in the European Union: a flood of cheap steel imports forced the EU to launch an investigation that resulted in a sharp decline in imports through the port of Antwerp, the EU's biggest steel-handling port, a spokesperson at the port said.
A steel industry source, who was not authorized to speak publicly, told Reuters Canadian producers are losing bids to South Korea, Mexico, Romania, and China. The source said, “It’s going to get a lot worse.”
Canada can levy duties on unfairly subsidized steel or even restrict imports when they impact on jobs using a “safeguard action.” Perhaps this is something Canada should consider - especially when the country's workforce is being put at risk.
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