Businesses talk tariff effects with Tory MPs

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Most of the current cohort of Canadian businesses have probably never experienced a trade war like the current one brought on by the imposition of tariffs by the U.S. on Canadian steel and aluminum, and the countermeasures Canada has imposed on U.S. imports — and neither have Canadian politicians.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/07/2018 (1665 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Most of the current cohort of Canadian businesses have probably never experienced a trade war like the current one brought on by the imposition of tariffs by the U.S. on Canadian steel and aluminum, and the countermeasures Canada has imposed on U.S. imports — and neither have Canadian politicians.

A couple of Conservative MPs — Selkirk’s Jame Bezan and Prince Albert, Sask.’s Randy Hoback — are in Winnipeg this week to to collect stories from the street, as it were, from local businesses about how it may affect them.

“We’re seeing what the impact is and seeking advice on how we should proceed into the future,” Hoback said.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS MP James Bezan (from left), former MP Lawrence Toet and MP Randy Hoback are in Winnipeg this week to discuss tariffs with local businesses.

Hoback and the other two members of the Conservative party’s trade committee are meeting with business across the country and will report back to Ottawa. Hoback said it is not certain what further action will result from their meetings.

On Monday, they met with officials from Magellan Aerospace, and today they will visit NFI Group (formerly New Flyer Industries).

Dave O’Connor, division manager, defence and space at Magellan’s Winnipeg operation — where they make, among other things, horizontal tail assemblies and other parts for the F-35 fighter jet —said, “We’re happy people are talking about trade.”

There is no denying the newly imposed tariffs have unsettled what had been one of the most open trading relationships in the world.

Companies like Magellan and NFI Group have not altered their business plan and have not expressed plans to do so, but as Chuck Davidson, CEO of the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce has said, businesses have plenty of questions.

“There is a level of concern. We hear it from members all the time,” he said. “It has more to do with uncertainty. No one is pushing the panic button or changing their business model.”

The agri-food industry features prominently in both Tory backbenchers’ ridings, and in addition to the direct impact of U.S. tariffs and the $16.6 billion in Canadian countermeasures, Prairie businesses also risk being victimized by the unintended consequences from the U.S.-China trade war.

Bezan pointed out that there are no new Canada-U.S. tariffs on soybeans, for instance, but China has imposed them against U.S. imports and it has brought down the soy market in Canada.

Hoback and Conservative party members have been working their connections with Republicans in Washington and he said there is some level of consensus about ensuring that both countries’ economies continue to prosper.

“We’re working hand in hand with the Liberal government, sharing our Rolodex (of contacts) with Republicans,” Hoback said.

“We need to bring the level of knowledge up so they (U.S. lawmakers) understand what things mean in their own backyard.”

martin.cash@freepress.mb.ca

 

Martin Cash

Martin Cash
Reporter

Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.

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