Atlas Tube CEO Wants Canada to Negotiate Steel Quota With US

The head of Harrow-based Atlas Tube is frustrated Canada has not moved to sort out the steel and aluminum tariffs with the US.

It comes as Ontario and Quebec are calling on the federal government to take further steps to press the United States to back down on steel and aluminum tariffs, including removing Canada's retaliatory tariffs.

Zekelman Industries CEO Barry Zekelman says the US needs to be pushed to re-focus on the steel and aluminum tariff wall.

"There's no talk going on at all from my understanding, the US is highly focused on China.  It's a bigger animal to deal with and I think they've just left the 232 with Canada and Mexico alone for now which is unfortunate because as that goes on it costs companies a ton of money".

Zekelman says there are other methods available without eliminating the tariffs.

"They should agree to a quota deal, bilateral, US would agree to quotas coming into Canada I think there's ample volume there available.  They could even do little escalators in the quota and there could be exemptions on certain products over and above that quota".

He says the moves Canada has made so far aren't making any difference.

"Canada has announced safeguards but they're largely ineffective in the way they've implemented them.  So if Canada agreed to quotas with the US and vice versa and then started concentrating on the other illegally traded dumped imports that come into Canada, Canada would be just fine.  There would be no issue".

Zekelman agrees there may be some fatigue among Canada's trade negotiators.

As he puts it "I think Canada's negotiators are fatigued after talking that much and doing nothing."

Zekelman calculates the steel tariff with the US is costing his companies about $40-million a year.

The federal government applied tariffs on $16.6-billion worth of American imports of steel, aluminum and other products after the U.S. imposed steel and aluminum levies last year.

The tariffs were imposed last year by the U.S., and the American commerce secretary has said they were designed to address the world's overproduction and overcapacity of steel. The federal Liberals were criticized last fall for signing a new North American trade pact, which includes the U.S., without securing any guarantees from Washington that it would lift the levies.

Ottawa has announced a financial aid package for industries caught in the crossfire, including up to $2 billion in new funding and support for workers in steel, aluminum and manufacturing sectors.

Canada has rejected the premise of the American duties — that its metals exports pose a national-security threat to the U.S. — and has been fighting for the removal of the tariffs.

The United States is also coming under pressure from American automakers, aluminum producers, manufacturers and farmers to put an end to the tariff standoff.