Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe speaks in Ottawa on February 9, 2018. Saskatchewan’s premier says the recently imposed U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum have caused some projects in the States to grind to a halt. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Saskatchewan premier says new U.S. tariffs hurting steel projects in province

REGINA — Saskatchewan’s premier says the recently imposed U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum have caused some projects in the States to grind to a halt.

On Thursday, Scott Moe said several energy pipeline projects in Texas and Oklahoma are at a standstill because they’re waiting on pipe.

“All of a sudden we have a 25 per cent cost on that product that’s heading down and those projects can’t move ahead until they get their pipe from Western Canada,” he said in an interview from Washington, D.C.

Moe was in the U.S. capital meeting with officials, including Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.

Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Scott Pruitt, an administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, also had meetings with Moe along with several senators and members of Congress.

He said the 25 per cent tariffs on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum have had a huge impact on Saskatchewan.

“Each and every time those steel products cross the border, they’ll be subject to a tax or a tariff,” Moe said. “The direct cost up front with some of our manufacturing facilities in the steel industry and the ag industry are concerning.”

Moe said the tariffs have particularly hurt workers at the Evraz steel plant in Regina, which employs about 1,000 people, because they often ship products to the U.S.

The premier has had a few conversations with Conrad Winkler, the CEO and president of Evraz North America, along with other manufacturers in the province.

He said that many are concerned about how much the tariffs will slow down production.

Although no exact dollar figures were discussed, the end result could be a two-fold cost — with the first being a direct cash cost for a company from the tariffs.

“The more concerning cost is will there be some type of long term slowdown in any of our production facilities in Saskatchewan that export steel products to the U.S. or import steel to make those products,” Moe said.

He said the trip was a success and that there was an understating of the benefits from the North American Free Trade Agreement, which is still under negotiation between Canada, the U.S., and Mexico.

Moe added he’s hopeful that he’s been able to enhance the importance of having a free trade agreement in the economy in North America.

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