Canada-U.S. tariff battle to hit B.C. construction projects


British Columbians can expect the cost of building big projects, from bridges to residential skyscrapers, to rise as a result of the tit-for-tat tariff battle between Canada and the United States, according to one industry association.

Canada’s retaliatory tariffs against U.S. steel, aluminum and a wide range of targeted consumer goods took effect July 1, and ten days in, construction firms face difficulties in getting suppliers to give them firm prices on tariff-affected materials, said Fiona Famulak, president of the Vancouver Regional Construction Association.

And regardless of whether construction projects are public sector or privately owned, “the price of your construction project will go up as a result of tariffs,” Famulak said.

Canada levelled import tariffs of 25 per cent on imported U.S. steel products and 10 per cent on American-aluminum products in response to American tariffs by President Donald Trump’s administration launched under provisions of national security.

Canada, the European Union and Mexico are all caught in the U.S. tariff war that reflects an increasingly protectionist American trade policy.

On another front, the U.S. also hit US$34 billion worth of imported goods from China with a 25-per-cent tariff, which caused the Chinese government to counter with a 25-per-cent tariff on American soybeans, meat and vehicles.

In B.C., Famulak didn’t have statistics on how much provincial firms rely on steel from the U.S., but does know that Canadian steel mills can’t fill all of Canada’s demand for steel in all the forms included on the tariff list.

“It could be rebar, for example, which is used in the infrastructure framework of buildings, all the way to stainless steel in the refrigerators of commercial buildings and highrise residential,” she said.

Across the board, the Canadian retaliatory action will hit some $1.7 billion worth of U.S. imports to B.C., which has annual imports of about $52 billion, according to Bryan Yu, deputy chief economist for Central 1 Credit Union.

Yu characterized the impact, about three per cent of all imports, as modest, but a burden that consumers will have to bear.

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“I think we are going to see some inflationary pressures emerging from this,” Yu said, “it’s a question of how businesses are going to pass that cost to end consumers.”

The list of consumer goods that also face a 10-per-cent import tariff includes orange juice, ketchup, cucumbers and pickles, whiskies, toilet paper and recreational vehicles and boats — …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun – Business

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