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PM Trudeau visiting Hamilton, Ont. to show support for steel workers

PM Trudeau visiting Hamilton, Ont. to show support for steel workers

While this tour is mainly aimed at reassuring workers, the prime minister tells CHCH News that he's also speaking with industry leaders about what the global tariffs could mean for Canada moving forward.

The steel tariff threat was seen by many to be an attempt by the Trump administration to pressure Canada and Mexico to complete the NAFTA talks - giving in to other USA demands or giving up some of their own -rather than risk the punishing steel and aluminum duties.

Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump granted Canada and Mexico an indefinite exemption from the tariffs.

Behind closed doors, Trudeau and industry representatives spoke about the issue of cheap steel entering Canada, but did not get into specifics, Canadian Steel Producers Association (CSPA) President Joseph Galimberti said.

Trudeau said Canada still had a lot more work to do and would press Washington to ensure the exemptions were permanent, and Canada has emphasized that tariffs would hurt both the United States and Canada.

Canadian negotiators are weighing the interests of the relatively small sector, responsible for about 22,000 direct Canadian jobs and $C9.0 billion ($F14b) in USA exports, against those of bigger industries like auto manufacturing and politically influential groups like dairy farmers.

"But I accept what the president said", Trudeau added, "that as long as there is a free-trade deal in North America there won't be tariffs".

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"We're negotiating right now NAFTA and we're going to hold off the tariff on those two countries to see whether or not we're able to make the deal on NAFTA", he said. "We had your backs last week and we always will".

The Trump administration is calling on Ottawa to ensure Canada is not used by Chinese and other overseas steel and aluminum producers as a "back door" to the United States, and Ottawa has been quick to signal that it is more than ready to comply and otherwise help Washington in fighting its trade rivals.

Only days after his Friday talk with the premier, Justin Trudeau will be back in Regina on Wednesday for a sequel, including meetings with local steelworkers and the mayor.

Donnelly also said the Canadian government must put resources in place to ensure that cheap steel is not diverted into Canada after Trump last week made a decision to impose a 25 percent tariffs on steel imports.

The Trump administration has set tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum, applicable to every country except Canada and Mexico.

China on Tuesday dismissed Canadian accusations that it was flooding global markets with cheap steel, saying overcapacity in the industry was an worldwide problem.

However, the key word is "temporary", particularly as NAFTA renegotiation efforts continue and the USA hopes to win concessions from its NAFTA peers.