MONTREAL — Canadian makers and users of aluminum and steel say they are disappointed but not surprised by the Trump administration’s decision to impose hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum produced north of the border.
United States Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says exemptions for Canada, Mexico and Europe from import duties of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum will expire as of midnight, as scheduled.
The head of the Aluminum Association of Canada says the 10 per cent tariffs to be imposed Friday on his industry will cause the most harm to Americans who will face higher prices for goods made from the metals, but could also damage smaller Canadian suppliers.
Jean Simard says Americans will continue to pay a premium to purchase aluminum in addition to the new tariff as suppliers are likely to pass the price increase on to consumers.
He says the tariff designed to protect the U.S. industry is the wrong tool directed at the wrong place.
The United States used 5.5 million tonnes of aluminum last year, largely imported from Canada, but only produced about 700,000 tonnes domestically.
The U.S. Beer Institute says its members, which includes Denver- and Montreal-based Molson Coors Brewing Co., are united against the tariffs on imported aluminum.
Institute CEO Jim McGreevy called the tariffs a new tax on the U.S. beer industry.
He said the tariffs will in the long run increase the cost of global beer production but have a disproportionate impact on American brewers and jobs.
Molson Coors analyst Brittany Weissman of Edward Jones says brewers will try to pass along the higher costs to consumers but the industry’s current demand challenges may make that difficult.
She says most companies have some breathing room because of hedging contracts that protect them from wild price swings.
But aluminum prices have already risen as buyers have hoarded the material.
Molson Coors chairman Pete Coors says the company purchases 500 million pounds of aluminum annually. It makes up two-thirds of their U.S. packaging costs.