Canada eyes unprecedented safeguard tariffs on steel imports – by Naomi Powell (Financial Post – August 15, 2018)

HAMILTON — Finance Minister Bill Morneau is launching formal consultations on whether to impose unprecedented trade measures to block a surge of steel imports diverted into Canada because of U.S. tariffs.

Morneau, who said an import surge has already been detected, announced Tuesday a 15-day consultation period during which he will evaluate possible safeguards on seven steel products, including plate, concrete reinforcing bar used in construction, hot-rolled sheet, wire rod and tubes for the energy industry.

If the consultations provide evidence of harm or threat of harm to producers, the federal government will impose immediate provisional safeguards to shield the industry while the issue is referred to the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) for inquiry.

Safeguards, deemed emergency actions by the World Trade Organization (WTO), are considered politically sensitive because they target both fairly and unfairly traded steel from all countries. Immediate “provisional safeguards” have never before been imposed in Canada.

“We’ve seen increases in imports. That’s an important reason why we’ve come forward today with seven products that we’re consulting on,” Morneau said during a visit to Hamilton steelmaker ArcelorMittal Dofasco. “That surge in imports of course leads us to be concerned that we need to consider what measures to take.”

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