The United States government has ended tariffs on Canadian steel products, and that news has led to a positive reaction from Ivaco Rolling Mills in L’Orignal.
The local steel mill manufactures billets and wire rods. In April, Ivaco permanently laid off 50 employees and eliminated the third shift at the plant, which now employs approximately 500 people. The tariffs made it more expensive for Canadian steel manufacturers to sell their products in the United States, which led to reduced demand and production in Canada.
A news release from Ivaco applauded the federal government’s negotiation efforts with the US government that led to the removal of the tariffs.
“On behalf of Ivaco Rolling Mills, we thank the Government of Canada for this significant achievement that will have a direct benefit on our customers, employees, suppliers and the community” said Ivaco Chief Financial Officer Will Trower.
“Now that a deal has been reached, we look forward to getting back to work with our partners on the other side of the border and a return to the free trade that has defined the North American steel market for decades,” Trower added.
Ivaco employees are members of the United Steelworkers Union and their local leadership welcomed the news of the tariffs being removed.
“These tariffs have had a significant impact on our members, and I am confident there is light at the end of the tunnel for all those affected,” said United Steelworkers Area Coordinator Richard Leblanc.
However, it is not clear if Ivaco is planning to recall the laid-off employees.
Ivaco Trade Manager Francis Miner could not say if any layoffs would be reversed but that the company is looking forward to working with the federal government to get the new agreement implemented.
Glengarry-Prescott-Russell Member of Parliament Francis Drouin had recently been pressing the government to have safeguards implemented that would have allowed a limited amount of Canadian-made steel enter the US market tariff-free if the tariffs were not removed by the US government.
Now that the tariffs have been removed, Drouin is pleased.
“The removal of tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum is great news for our local workers and their families,” he said in a statement released late Friday afternoon.
Drouin added that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland always maintained that the tariffs were illegal, and that Canada responded by imposing its own strategic tariffs on the US and launched a challenge at the World Trade Organization.