The Vancouver Regional Construction Association (VRCA) joins the Canadian Construction Association (CCA) in welcoming the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) recommendations to terminate preliminary safeguards imposed on five of seven categories of steel products.

“We’re pleased that CITT is recommending an end to safeguards on five categories of steel products,” said Fiona Famulak, VRCA president. “We’re hopeful the federal government will accept the recommendations and end those five safeguards.

“At the same time, we trust it will continue to work towards a final and binding end to the ongoing dispute with the United States, thereby providing stability for our membership and restoring investor confidence in Canada.”

On Oct. 25, 2018, in response to the ongoing tariff dispute on steel and aluminium products with the United States and its impact on domestic industry, federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced the imposition of safeguards on seven categories of steel products:

  • heavy plate;
  • concrete reinforcing bar;
  • energy tubular products;
  • hot-rolled sheets;
  • pre-painted steel;
  • stainless-steel wire; and
  • wire rod.

Minister Morneau concurrently ordered CITT to conduct an inquiry into whether international imports on any of the seven categories were significant enough to warrant keeping safeguards in place.

There were 119 participants in the inquiry, including domestic producers, trade unions, importers, foreign producers and users of the goods. Several foreign governments also participated. The tribunal held 13 days of public hearings in January 2019. CITT considered evidence from 44 witnesses. Parties filed written submissions and presented oral argument.

Report’s release and key findings
CITT released their report April 3 and cited the investigation as one of the most in-depth it had ever conducted. The panel found that only two of the seven categories; heavy plate and stainless-steel wire, have been “imported in such increased quantities and under such conditions as to be a principal cause of threat of serious industry to the domestic industry.” The tribunal therefore recommended that safeguards remain in place for those two until a Ministerial decision is reached. Participants in the hearings were informed that as a result of the CITT findings, the surtaxes on the other five products will cease on April 28, 2019.

The tribunal also recommended the government periodically review its measures as global market conditions change. Washington’s reaction to Ottawa’s scaling back of the surtax may be critical, as Canada tries to persuade the Trump administration to lift its “national security” tariffs.

Next steps
VRCA and CCA welcome the news that conditions are stable to the point of having five of the seven safeguards recommended for termination. Minister Morneau has until the second week of May when the current safeguards expire to render a decision regarding heavy plate and stainless-steel wire; the two outstanding categories. The minister can either abide by CITT’s recommendation, extend provisions, or end them altogether. Traditionally however, per the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) agreement on safeguards, Canada is obliged to abide by the ruling and not ignore or overrule the decision for political reasons.

VRCA and CCA are advocating for a final and binding end to the ongoing dispute with the United States providing stability for our membership and restoring investor confidence in Canada.

Read the full CCA statement.