WINDSOR, Ont. — Canadian parts suppliers, worried that the protracted U.S.-Canada trade battle will inflict permanent economic damage on this side of the border, are urging the federal government to adopt a more aggressive stance against American protectionism.
“We just lost an order to a U.S. competitor,” Larry Dalaey, president of Windsor, Ont,-based Aarkel Tool & Die, said Friday during a meeting between the Canadian Association of Mould Makers (CAMM) and federal International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne. “We just started up a new division in the energy sector, and our customer in Denver just wouldn’t place the order with us.
“It hurts, it hurts us.”
Canada’s manufacturing sector is reeling from recently imposed U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminium exports, and is bracing for the possibility of 25-per-cent duties on light duty vehicles shipped across the border. Ottawa has responded with retaliatory tariffs to take effect July 1.
Champagne, who had just completed three days of meetings with industry executives in Detroit, said the federal government is “fighting on every possible front.”
He encouraged the mold makers to “make the case” for NAFTA as well as highlight the damage tariffs are inflicting on the integrated supply chain to politicians and their industrial counterparts in the United States.
“The more you bring it back to them, the more the message will get to Washington,” he said. “We have to operate as Team Canada. We have to speak with a common voice.”
Canadian federal cabinet ministers have been fanning across the U.S., spreading the anti-tariff message.
But Keith Henry, president of Windsor Mold Group, said he already has done exactly what Champagne suggested, and to no avail.
“I’ve met with governors, I’ve met with state and local officials,” Henry said. “They get it. But it seems to stop at Washington, which is frustrating.”
Jon Azzopardi, CAMM chairman and president of Laval International, said it’s time for Ottawa to become more aggressive in its messaging.
“We don’t need to bash the U.S. side, but we need to remind the American people what Canadians have done and how important we are,” said Azzopardi. “It’s a great thing our politicians are going there, but a lot of that is stopping short. We need to start running ads in the U.S. We don’t want to take the negative approach, we should take the positive approach.”
Ottawa and Washington, he added, “are not feeling the repercussions of the tariffs. Those tariffs will continue to make us less competitive; it will get worse and worse if we go deeper down this rabbit hole, and make it to the point where we may never recover.”