Construction associations applaud steel tariff relief

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The Vancouver Regional Construction Association (VRCA) joins the B.C. and Canadian Construction Associations in welcoming the federal government’s decision to provide tariff and safeguard relief on specific aluminum and steel products imported from the United States and overseas.

“This relief will bring some much-needed good news to the B.C. construction industry,” said Fiona Famulak, VRCA president. “Our industry has been weighed down with uncertainty over the last few months, caused first by the reciprocal countermeasures on American aluminum and steel, and more recently by the safeguards on non-U.S. steel.”

In response to its members’ concerns, in recent months, VRCA has partnered with a number of industry associations and business organizations to raise concern about the potential impact the tariffs and safeguard measures will have on the supply of various aluminum and steel products for the B.C. construction market.

Last month, VRCA sent a joint letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau asking the federal government to ensure:

  • that steel products in transit to Canada prior to the introduction of safeguards on October 25 be excluded from tariffs; and
  • a regional remission of 100,000 tonnes of rebar be allowed into British Columbia.

“We thank the federal government for hearing the appeals from Canada’s construction industry and other industries affected by the tariffs and safeguards,” Famulak said. “Exempting steel products already in transit prior to October 25 is a good first step towards bringing certainty back to our industry.”

“We also thank the provincial government for meeting with us and some of our members, hearing our concerns and raising those concerns to the attention of the federal government.”

VRCA is continuing to review the federal government’s announcement to better understand the implications of the numerous product remissions and the relief for specific companies announced in respect to Canada’s retaliatory tariffs and safeguards. Still, it is evident that further action is needed to ensure that B.C.’s construction schedule can proceed as planned.

“As welcome as these measures are, this relief is temporary, and the uncertainty will still affect competitiveness and business confidence in Canada,” said Mary Van Buren, president of the Canadian Construction Association. “The industry and investors need the stability of a permanent solution to the ongoing trade dispute to allow them to better plan for the future.”

Canada’s construction associations have long advocated for reciprocity and the establishment and maintenance of a free-flowing international system of trade, both regarding goods as well as services. They support international free trade agreements, including provisions respecting government procurement.

“This announcement demonstrates the important role that associations play in our industry, and the power of local, provincial, and national organizations collaborating together on key issues,” said Chris Atchison, British Columbia Construction Association president.

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