Steel city mayors ask U.S. counterparts for help fighting steel tariffs

Mayors of two major steel-making cities in Canada have sent a joint letter to 32 U.S. cities asking for help fighting tariffs on Canadian steel.

Addressed to mayors of 32 cities across 10 states, Fred Eisenberger of Hamilton and Christian Provenzano of Sault Ste. Marie chose cities that rely on Canadian steel products for their manufacturing industries.

"Hamilton and Sault Ste. Marie are Canada's two largest steel-producing cities, with integrated and interdependent economic relationships with many American cities," the letter says.

"Tariffs threaten the integrated supply chains of our local industries and the balanced relationship that has developed between our countries."

In 2017, U.S. imported 26.9 million tonnes of steel and 16 per cent of it was from Canada.

There are 10,000 direct steel production jobs in Hamilton and 30,000 jobs related to steel, said Keanin Loomis, CEO of Hamilton Chamber of Commerce.

Over in the Sault Ste. Marie region, imposed tariffs could result in the loss of 3,000 jobs, said MPP Ross Romano.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland speak at a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 31, 2018. Canada is imposing dollar-for-dollar tariff "countermeasures" on up to $16.6 billion worth of U.S. imports in response to the American decision to make good on its threat of similar tariffs against Canadian-made steel and aluminum. (Patrick Doyle/Canadian Press)

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced last Thursday that they will be imposing tariffs of 25 per cent on imported steel and 10 per cent on imported aluminum from Canada.

Eisenberger said in a release Monday that the tariff is "ill conceived" and it will "result in job losses and higher prices for consumers."

The joint letter to mayors, including those in Mississippi and Texas, warns that the steel tariff will lead to the loss of 470,000 jobs in the U.S. It cites a study released the Trade Partnership Worldwide LLC.

The mayors then suggest their counterparts work with their governors, congressional leaders and the Trump administration to address the issue.

In response to the U.S. announcement, Canada will be countering them with dollar-for-dollar tariffs on some steel and aluminum products, as well as other goods such as beer kegs, whisky and toilet paper.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement hours after U.S. confirmed the tariffs. 

Freeland said Canada's response is "the strongest trade action" in the post-war era, and that it's a proportionate response.

"This is a very strong Canadian action in response to a very bad U.S. decision," she said.

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