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Canada starts talks on steel import safeguards

Canada launched consultations with steelmakers and users as it considers import safeguards amid a trade dispute with the U.S.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau, speaking at an ArcelorMittal steel plant in Hamilton, Ontario, on Aug. 14, said Canada would seek industry input on seven steel product categories as it considers further trade actions to mute the impact of steel tariffs. The categories are steel plate, concrete reinforcing bar, energy tubular products, hot-rolled sheet, pre-painted steel, stainless steel wire and wire rod.

Earlier in the year, the U.S. put a 25% tariff on steel imports, along with a 10% tariff on aluminum, to boost its domestic metal producers, citing national security concerns. Canada, which supplies the U.S. with most of its steel and aluminum imports, decried the move as unnecessary and followed suit with similar tariffs.

With the tariffs in place, Canadian officials have expressed concern that more steel would wind up being imported into Canada.

"We've seen an increase in imports," Morneau said, without citing specific import figures.

He said the goal of the talks with the industry was to assess the right way to deal with the "complicated impacts" of tariffs. As Canada develops possible industry safeguards, Morneau said Canada was engaging allies and trading partners.

Taking a question on the rarity of safeguard actions, Morneau said the situation and potential need for new policies, was "exceptional." He said several times that the goal was to create stability in Canada's steel market over the long term.