Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Rolls of coiled steel at Canadian steel producer Dofasco in Hamilton Ont., on March 13, 2018.

Tara Walton/Canadian Press

Metal manufacturers and fabricators aired their complaints about trade barriers in Ottawa on Tuesday, telling members of Parliament that U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum coupled with Canada’s countermeasures are eroding profits and driving up costs. This is giving foreign rivals an edge, the business people said, appearing before the standing committee on international trade.

Chris Wharin of Bohne Spring Industries Ltd., a Toronto-based maker of springs, wire and metal work for automotive and other uses, said that to keep its customers, the company cannot pass on some of the higher import and manufacturing costs incurred since Canada placed retaliatory tariffs of 10 per cent and 25 per cent on metal products from the United States.

“This is having a crippling effect on our cash flow and profits,” he said, adding the company relies on U.S. suppliers for much its steel and is unable to find domestic replacements.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Wharin said tariffs and shortages have driven up material costs by 50 per cent to 60 per cent in some cases and the company has paid $50,000 in duties since July 1.

That’s the date Canada imposed tariffs on $16.6-billion worth of U.S. metal products and consumer goods. The move was in retaliation to U.S. President Donald Trump’s import tariffs on global steel and aluminum.

The tariffs remain, even though a proposed free-trade deal, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, was unveiled at the beginning of October.

Canada recently announced importers of some metal products could apply for tariff rebates, but business people at the Commons committee criticized this process as slow and time-consuming.

Mark VanderVeen, an executive with Court Holdings Ltd., which makes parts for cars and trains at subsidiaries in 14 countries, said 90 per cent of the company’s Ontario production is exported to the United States. In the integrated industry fostered by decades of free trade, many parts cross the Canada-U.S. border more than once before being finished. He said the tariffs have driven up costs, strained relationships with customers, taken the company’s focus off innovation and consumed valuable staff time applying for rebates from the government.

“This has taken a Canadian company and its team from tight margins to one that struggles to come close to a break-even point,” Mr. VanderVeen said.

The financial pain of the tariffs is being disproportionately felt by smaller companies that lack the cash flow to absorb them, said Gian Paolo Vescio, external affairs director of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association. He said the rebate scheme recently unveiled by Ottawa is not a sustainable long-term solution.

Story continues below advertisement

Tracey Ramsey, an NDP MP and vice-chair of the committee, said just 36 of the 74 applications for tariff rebates have been approved, in part because the government lacks the staff to handle requests. “The money isn’t flowing,” Ms. Ramsey said.

Bilateral talks to remove the tariffs have raised the possibility the United States will impose import quotas on Canadian steel and aluminum, following a model used in an automobile side agreement to the proposed free-trade deal.

However, Jean Simard, head of the Aluminium Association of Canada, said the North American metal industry must trade freely, without tariffs of any kind, and instead focus on foreign dumping and transshipments intended to skirt the rules.

“Aluminum is a commodity and the price is the same all over the world,” Mr. Simard said. “By artificially increasing input costs and constraining metal supply, the impacts of the tariffs are making aluminum costs in North America the highest in the world. This benefits foreign suppliers and hurts our domestic downstream companies, who are pushed out of the market.”

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies