Canada and the United States are officially in a trade war with no winners, Central Alberta experts say.
Federal government’s retaliation tariffs, worth $16.6 billion, came into effect Canada Day. They were in response to recently-imposed U.S tariffs on some Canadian steel and aluminum industry.
Reg Warkentin, Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce policy and advocacy manager, said the tariffs imposed on U.S. would mean household products such as coffee, appliances, and liquor will be more expensive to Canadians.
“It’s because we get so many of our products from United States and the tariffs add an extra tax coming across the border and of course that tax or the price increase gets passed along to businesses and consumers,” he said.
Canada’s response includes tariffs on a long list of consumer products from a wide range of sectors — from beer kegs to ballpoint pens to ketchup.
Warkentin said he believes there won’t be any winners in this trade war. The losers, however, would be businesses and consumers on both sides of the border.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re Canadian business or American business – we are all going to be paying more for goods, and it hurts everyone,” he said.
Blaine Calkins, Red Deer–Lacombe MP, echoed Warkentin’s words.
He said Central Alberta businesses from recreational boat dealers to brewery owners, and manufacturers, have shared their concern with the local federal politician.
“For many of these businesses, importing goods from the United States is the only option as these goods are not produced in Canada,” he said. “They are forced to choose between absorbing the additional costs or raising prices.”
The MP said Canada and U.S. trade relationship worth about $600 billion a year.
Warkentin couldn’t agree more. The policy adviser at the chamber said both countries are each other’s biggest trading partners – barring few exceptions – which means “it’s a tall order” to replace the U.S. as a customer and as a supplier.
Warkentin said Central Alberta businesses that can – will find new markets for customers and suppliers. His advice is to look at other provinces as well as overseas in Asia, and Europe.
So far the chamber representative hasn’t heard of any business shutdowns or staff layoffs due to the newly introduced tariffs.
“Our economy is recovering from the recession but it’s still in a relatively weakened state so we do have pretty serious concerns about the impacts but Alberta and businesses have proven to be resilient and resourceful,” he said.
Although Central Alberta employees are safe, U.S. steel tariffs have resulted in lay offs in Ontario. A spokesman for Tenaris, which manufactures seamless steel pipes, says 40 workers at the company’s mill in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., have been laid off due to changes in the export market.
With files from the CANADIAN PRESS