USW warns against renewed flood of dumped Asian steel this summer

Canada should brace for a renewed flood of dumped Asian steel this summer, say the United Steelworkers. Cabinet yesterday promised new measures to block the transshipment of unfairly-priced steel imports through Canada to the U.S.

“We need to act quickly,” said Mark Rowlinson, assistant to the Canadian national director of the Steelworkers’ union. The U.S. has proposed a 25 percent tariff on steel imports. Rowlinson said the industry expects Asian mills to divert shipments through Canada.

“We have every reason to believe we’ll start to see the impacts this summer,” said Rowlinson. “If you are a producer of dumped, subsidized steel or aluminum in China or anywhere else, where are you going to look? You’re going to look to dump it into Canada, and that poses a real threat to Canadian jobs.”

The Prime Minister’s Office yesterday said regulations would be introduced to give the Canada Border Services Agency new powers to restrict transshipped steel freighted through Canada. “New anti-circumvention investigations will allow the Agency to identify and stop companies that try to dodge duties, for example by modifying products or assembling them in Canada or a third country,” said a notice. No legal text of regulations was released.

“We’re looking at strengthening the measures we already have in place, because it’s important that we not be taking in dumped steel from around the world,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau yesterday told reporters. “This is something I assured our steelworkers and our aluminum workers.”

The Canadian International Trade Tribunal this year cited Korean shippers for price-cutting on steel pipe that saw imports to Canada increase 580 percent in a single year, 2016. The Korean shipments came just after the Tribunal cited Chinese state-run steel mills for similar unfair trade practices.

“Our rules are strong and we’re going to make sure they are fully and properly enforced,” said Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, responsible for enforcement of the Customs Act. “We’re not going to give anyone any specious excuse for any kind of action against the Canadian steel or aluminum industry.”

“We want to make sure foreign steel does not end up getting dumped unfairly into the Canadian market and, secondly, that the steel does not find its way elsewhere into the North American market,” said Goodale. Canada has run a trade deficit in steel since 1996.

The Commons trade committee in a 2017 report The Canadian Steel Industry’s Ability To Compete recommended cabinet consider countervailing duties “on a regional basis where appropriate” to counter steel dumping, largely from state-run Chinese mills. Canada’s steel output as a portion of world production has fallen by half in the past 20 years.