‘It’s a great day for us’: Winnipeg business welcomes deal between Canada and U.S. to lift steel, aluminum tariffs

Steel and aluminum are two of the products that go into making fire trucks. After tariffs were imposed last year, Canada’s largest fire apparatus builder – Winnipeg’s own Fort Garry Fire Trucks – felt the pinch.

“We had to put a one per cent surcharge on our whole cost of the whole vehicle,” said Steven Suché, Fort Garry Fire Trucks’ government and export sales director.

Suché said all of the aluminum they brought in from the U.S. was hit with 10 per cent tariffs, and all steel was tacked with 25 per cent tariffs. The company builds around 100 trucks annually.

“They’re one of our biggest customers,“ said Suché. “Our biggest supply of all of our components from fire pumps to ladders to some of the chassis are made in the U.S. and Mexico.”

On Friday, it was announced Canada’s year-long standoff with the Trump administration over punitive U-S steel and aluminum tariffs will come to an end within 48 hours.

“These tariffs were harming workers and consumers on both sides of the border,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau while at a press conference in Hamilton, Ont.

The U.S. first imposed these tariffs last May, and Canada fired back with its own set of tariffs in July.

Trudeau said with the new Nafta coming into effect, it didn’t make sense to keep them. He said an agreement to lift the levies was reached after a lengthy back-and-forth effort across the border.

“There was no one breakthrough moment. It was just a lot of steady conversations,” Trudeau said.

Under the deal, Canada and the U.S. will establish a process monitoring steel and aluminum trade between them. Trudeau said the agreement is aimed at ensuring the North American market isn’t flooded with cheap metal products from China.

“That deal is going to be a fantastic deal for our country,” said U.S. President Donald Trump from Washington. “Hopefully congress will approve the USMCA quickly.”

The dropping of the controversial tariffs ends a bitter dispute between the two countries and removes a key obstacle to ratifying the new North American trade pact.

Suché is happy to see the tariffs go and hopes this will help build stronger ties with their American connections.

“It’s a great day for us,” said Suché. “We look forward to getting back to business as usual before all these tariffs took effect.”

Canada has also agreed to drop all retaliatory measures and legal actions at the World Trade Organization.

-With files from The Canadian Press