Atlas Tube CEO critical of Canada's retaliation against U.S. tariffs
The head of a North American steel tube and pipe empire is critical of Canada’s Prime Minister for retaliating against U.S. tariffs on aluminum and steel.
Barry Zekelman, the CEO of Atlas Tube, says the new tariffs are not necessarily about steel. He says it as a move by U.S. President Donald Trump to secure a new NAFTA deal.
The U.S. has hit Canada with a 25 per cent tariff on steel, and a 10 per cent duty on aluminium in a move that also impacts products from Mexico and the European Union.
Canada retaliated with plans to levy tariff "countermeasures" of its own on up to $16.6 billion worth of imports of steel, aluminum and other products from the U.S.
Zekelman is disappointed by Canada’s decision to retaliate.
“I think the Prime Minister needs to park his ego and get a deal done,” says Zekelman, referring to negotiations for a North American Free Trade Agreement.
The Canadian-born billionaire wants Trudeau to agree to a U.S. demand for a five-year sunset clause on NAFTA.
“They have the world's largest economic engine and if we think we're going to swat them around, it’s not going to happen,” says Zekelman.
As for the new tariffs, Zekelman says it will cost his company “hundreds of thousands of dollars a day.”
The chief executive officer at Zekelman Industries Inc. says he will be able to absorb the costs for now, but he wants of moving operations that will impact jobs if a deal is not done soon.
“It’s a lot of money but I'm still willing to support it, if it gets a NAFTA deal done in the short term,” says Zekelman. “Ultimately, we will shift some production, there’s no question and I think long term, it would be a disaster for Canada and the U.S.”
Zekelman tells CTV Windsor he is willing to invest $13-million into an expansion at his Harrow plant, but not without a new trade deal and a more competitive business environment.
Laval International President Jonathan Azzopardi says they have been countless meetings since the new tariffs were announced.
Azzopardi says the impact of the tariffs could be devastating for a number of businesses.
“I think there's some innocent bystanders who are going to be impacted by this because in our industry, in the mold making industry, most of our steel comes from the United States,” says Azzopardi. “We actually buy a lot of U.S. steel, bring it into Canada turn it into something else and send it back to the United States so we're actually helping the U.S. economy so we're one of the innocent bystanders stuck in the middle."
Prime Minister Trudeau says he will work with companies hit hard by what he calls “ridiculous” tariffs.