End Metals Tariffs Before Car Prices Rise, Linamar CEO Says

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. and Canada should drop steel and aluminum tariffs before automakers are forced to raise prices, the head of one of North America’s biggest parts suppliers said.

Ending the tariffs should be a bigger priority than ratification of the free trade agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, Linamar Corp. Chief Executive Officer Linda Hasenfratz said Wednesday.

Linamar supplies Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. and Hasenfratz said U.S. companies are already feeling “significant” pain from the tariffs. U.S. lawmakers should also revisit the original argument that Canadian metals are a national security risk before they move on to other issues besides trade, she said.

“It won’t be long before the industry can’t withstand those costs any longer, and price increases start to come through and that will absolutely impact demand,” she said in a BNN Bloomberg TV interview from her headquarters in Guelph, Ontario. “But there is just no focus on it right now with all the other issues that are cooking in the U.S.”

Canada retaliated dollar-for-dollar on July 1 after the U.S. set levies of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum. President Donald Trump had signaled earlier that tariffs could pressure Canada in talks over the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Since the talks wrapped up Canadian leaders have said the tariffs should end.

Talks Continue

“We continue to work with the American administration, with a lot of people in Congress, who do feel rightly that these tariffs are hurting American workers like they’re hurting Canadian workers and Canadian industry,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa Wednesday. “The president has, you know, stuck to his approach on tariffs even though it’s hurting the American people as well.”

While most companies can live with a delay in ratifying a new trade deal, the U.S. should act now on the metals tariffs, Hasenfratz said.

“It’s just as easy to take the tariffs off as it was to put them on: one signature,” she said. “We have a free-trade agreement between our countries but we are charging duties and tariffs. That doesn’t make sense.’’

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