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Canada Plans to Use "Emergency Measures" to Protect Its Steel Industry for the First Time

Canada's federal government said on the 14th that it is ready to take "emergency protection measures" to restrict the import of foreign steel products to protect its domestic steel industry.

Bill Morneau, Canada's finance minister, announced the announcement to the media at a steel mill near Toronto on the same day. Under the Canadian Customs Act, the authorities have the right to use "emergency protective measures" in "exceptional circumstances" while complying with international trade rules, i.e. imposing additional tariffs or imposing import quotas before conducting relevant investigations.

The Canadian government is targeting seven types of imported steel products, including steel plates, steel bars for concrete, energy pipes, hot rolled sheets, pre-coated steel plates, stainless steel wires and wire rods.

The Canadian government has never used the term "emergency protection measures" in the past. Once it is "activated", it will be the first time that the country has adopted this trade protection measure. The federal government announced that it would start a 15 day public consultation starting from August 14th.

At the end of May this year, Canada announced to strengthen the implementation of the country of origin marking system for imported steel and aluminum products in order to be consistent with the United States marking system. But this did not allow Canada to obtain a continuous exemption from the US steel and aluminum tariff barriers. Since the beginning of steel and aluminum tariffs in the United States, the Canadian government has imposed retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products worth C$16.6 billion, including steel and aluminum, since July 1 this year.

Mono said the U.S. actions had created "special circumstances" that threatened Canada with the influx of cheap foreign steel. He added that the protective measures proposed by the Canadian side were not specific to specific countries but to specific product categories to ensure market stability.

"International trade has undoubtedly lifted the Canadian economy," Mono said. "But it must be fair and open, and it must benefit everyone."

Official Canadian data show that in 2017, the Canadian steel industry provided about 23,000 jobs for Canadians and contributed $4.2 billion to Canada's GDP.
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