Lengthy Tariff Fight Leads Canada to Fund Smaller Metals Firms

(Bloomberg) -- Canada is announcing funding for the country’s smaller steel and aluminum producers as a tariff fight with the U.S. drags on.

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains said Monday Canada will make available C$100 million ($75 million) in “non-repayable contributions” to small- and medium-sized steel and aluminum manufacturers, or clients of those firms. The funding is aimed at projects that boost productivity or adopt new technology.

Tariffs continue to strain ties between the nations. The U.S. applied levies of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum last year. Canada, the top source for the U.S. of both metals, responded with reciprocal tariffs shortly afterward. Canada is now pushing for both countries to lift the tariffs, whereas the U.S. wants some kind of quota. The impasse threatens passage of the new trade deal between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

“In the face of unjust and illegal U.S. tariffs hurting businesses and workers on both sides of the border, our government is standing shoulder to shoulder with our hard-working steel and aluminum workers and the users of their world-class products,” Bains said in a statement.

The funding will be delivered through the country’s regional development agencies. Firms will be eligible for as much as C$1 million, to a maximum of 45 percent of a project’s cost.

U.S. President Donald Trump boasted about his aluminum tariffs in a tweet on Friday, saying prices are down about 12 percent since the levies were implemented.

Canada has pushed back against the idea of a quota. “We have said from the beginning we will not accept a hard cap quota on aluminum,” Canada’s ambassador to Washington, David MacNaughton, said Friday in an email.

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