Quebec politicians, business executives optimistic after American trade tariffs lifted
Published Saturday, May 18, 2019 5:11PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 18, 2019 6:19PM EDT
Quebec's government leaders are celebrating the end of US-imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum.
Provincial economy minister Pierre Fitzgibbon called it a huge victory for Quebec workers and businesses.
La levée des tarifs sur l'acier et l'aluminium est une très bonne nouvelle pour les producteurs québécois. Il s'agit de secteurs stratégiques de notre économie. Dans les prochaines heures, nous allons regarder les détails de l'entente. #PolQc #PolCan— Pierre Fitzgibbon (@MinFitzgibbon) May 17, 2019
"Our initial goal, the complete and permanent abolition of unjustified tariffs, has been achieved," he said in a statement.
"In addition, today's announcement rejects any other measure that could limit the growth of Quebec's steel and aluminum industries, such as quotas or reduced rates."
These tariffs hit Quebec particularly hard, as 90 percent of Canada's aluminum is produced in the province.
Companies had to adapt their strategies without knowing how long the tariffs would last.
Now, they are overjoyed.
"It's Christmas all over again," said Jean Simard, CEO of the Aluminum Association of Canada. "There are no quotes and it's happening as of Monday, so it's a major relief to everyone."
The tariffs were initially imposed by the Trump administration during NAFTA talks.
Industry leaders are now cautiously optimistic that protectionist measures will be avoided in the future and that the industry will grow.
"This agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico on the abolition of tariffs was essential in order to maintain investor confidence," said Quebec negotiator Raymond Chretien.
"Although we don't know exactly how this will roll out, what we understand is they want to work together to increase the competitiveness of the North American market, which is a very good sign," said Veronique Proulx, CEO of Quebec Manufacturers and Exporters.