Canada’s retaliation against the US trade tariffs could lead to disruption for Canadian builders and higher costs for new home buyers.
Ottawa’s response to President Trump’s action on steel and aluminum is supported by the Canadian Coalition for Construction Steel but the organization says the government needs to act cautiously before doing anything that could harm the construction industry.
"We support the federal government's measured response to the US tariffs and we understand the difficult choices the Government had to make in deciding which products to target," says Anoop Khosla, the Managing Director of Midvalley Rebar, a construction steel fabricator and Coalition member in Surrey, B.C. "However, we are worried that the Government is considering safeguard measures – some combination of tariffs or quotas – on imports of rebar and other construction steel from Canada's other trading partners."
Canadian steel producers supply around half of the steel used in construction across the country with US imports adding another 25% and the rest from elsewhere.
Rising costs, cancelled projects
The CCCS fears that imposing tariffs on non-US imports at a time when they will become more important to offset the extra US costs will be negative for the industry.
Steel prices have been rising sharply in the past 6 months and further increases could restrict activity for Canadian infrastructure, commercial property, and home builders.
"Many countries are affected by the US tariffs but putting up barriers to construction steel from those countries will be a self-inflicted wound to our economy,” warns Walter Koppelaar, CEO and Chairman of Walters Group, a steel fabricator and Coalition member in Hamilton, Ontario. “It will mean cancelled projects and higher construction costs for bridges, roads, and new homes. And for every job potentially protected in a Canadian steel mill, 10 or more downstream jobs will be put at risk."
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