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Without tariff exemption Canada must withdraw from NAFTA: Unifor

March 2, 2018 

TORONTO – Unifor says if Canada fails to obtain an exemption from unjust and punitive tariffs on steel and aluminum exports to U.S. then the Canadian government has no choice but to withdraw from NAFTA renegotiations.

“If America imposes duties on steel and aluminum and Canada doesn’t walk away from NAFTA immediately then make no mistake we will no longer be negotiating, we’ll be capitulating,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

Yesterday President Trump announced his intention to apply import duties of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum but it remains unclear if Canada, the largest supplier of both to the U.S., will be exempt.

Unifor calls on the federal government to take all necessary pre-emptive and, if required, retaliatory measures to protect Canadian jobs and industries.

Quebec is a key supplier of aluminum while Ontario is a major supplier of steel and automobiles. The union went on to warn that tariffs against Canada will also hurt the U.S. auto industry and result in higher costs for consumers on both sides of the border.

“The auto supply chain is completely intertwined. A cost increase of this magnitude will drive consumers directly into the arms of Japanese car makers,” said Dias.

Unifor represents more than 40,000 workers in the auto industry and thousands more working in the steel and aluminum sectors, including 1,000 at Rio Tinto in British Columbia and 3,000 aluminum workers in Quebec.

“It’s clear the U.S. is using tariffs as a trade weapon,” said Renaud Gagné, Unifor Quebec Director. “It’s no accident that these duties were announced while NAFTA talks are underway. The federal government must stand and fight, here and now, against this threat by the U.S. government and supporting stakeholders.” 

Dias and Gagné will be available for interviews in Mexico City during the remainder of Round 7 NAFTA negotiations.

For more information, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at kathleen.okeefe@unifor.org  or 416-896-3303 (cell).

For French interviews, please contact Unifor Quebec Communications Representative, Marie-Andrée L'Heureux at marie-andree.lheureux@unifor.org or 514-916-7373 (cell).