In 2018, the US government began imposing tariffs of 25 per cent on imports of Canadian steel. In response, the Government of Canada implemented retaliatory tariffs of their own against US imports. There was concern following the implementation of US steel tariffs that there could be an influx of foreign steel from other countries in the Canadian market.
As a result, the federal government imposed a 25 per cent emergency surtax on seven types of foreign steel, to be in effect for 200 days beginning last October. The Canadian International Trade Tribunal was tasked with conducting an inquiry during this time to determine if permanent safeguards were justified. The surtax was only applied when import volumes exceeded historical averages, and excluded the US and some other countries.
As of April 28, 2019, the surtax on five categories of foreign steel (concrete reinforcing bar, energy tubular products, hot-rolled sheet, pre-painted steel and wire rod) has ended. Those who paid surtaxes on imports of these five products will be eligible for refunds.
The Government of Canada announced that long-term safeguards would be imposed on two types of foreign steel - heavy plate and stainless steel wire - in the form of a tariff rate quota. Certain volumes will be permitted free of surtaxes and any volumes above the threshold will be subject to a surtax rate to be determined. This decision follows recommendations by the Canadian International Trade Tribunal, which found that foreign imports of these two products could pose serious threats to the Canadian steel industry.
In conjunction with this announcement, the federal government launched a 30-day consultation period with industry and workers to determine if further protections are required.