Canadian auto, steel reaction to trade deal: From ‘sigh of relief’ to ‘sold out’


From left, United Steelworkers Canadian director Ken Neumann, Unifor’s Jerry Dias and the APMA’s Flavio Volpe all had something to say about the new North American trade deal.

Reaction from Canadian automotive and steel and aluminum groups to the terms of a renegotiated trade pact between Canada, the United States and Mexico range from relief to dismay as the details of the proposed new pact begin to sink in.

Here’s a look at what some major Canadian players had to say:

FLAVIO VOLPE, PRESIDENT OF APMA

Flavio Volpe, head of the Canadian Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association took to Twitter and praised the deal and its brokers.

“Negotiating with an unorthodox, unconventional, sometimes belligerent, more powerful trading partner over the past 13 months was a historical challenge,” he said. “Ending that process with a deal that increases investment and more competitive market access for Canada is extraordinary.

“I want to give full credit for our success on NAFTA/USMCA to [Foreign Affairs Minister] Chrystia Freeland and Team Canada. The non-partisan, public/private effort was amazing and I’m proud to be a footnote in this history’s chapter.”

JERRY DIAS, PRESIDENT OF UNIFOR

The United States “finally came to their senses” and created an environment conducive to reaching an agreement with Canada, said Jerry Dias, head of the major Canadian union Unifor, a key player in the negotiation drama.

“Things started to change when the United States understood that we weren’t moving on the dispute mechanism, Canada’s cultural exemption needed to be in place, we weren’t going to bend on the auto industry,” he said Monday on Parliament Hill.

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“The auto industry should be absolutely thrilled,” Dias said in an interview on BNN Bloomberg TV. “Today people can rest and take a big deep breath. We really are in a situation where we can attract investment.”

ROB WILDEBOER, CHAIRMAN OF MARTINREA

“I think Canadian stocks in general have had this NAFTA cloud over them, that’s certainly true for the auto parts sector. I expect valuations are going to increase,” Rob Wildeboer, chairman of Martinrea, said in an interview with Bloomberg while discussing stock prices.

ROB BURTON, OAKVILLE MAYOR

“We understand this new trade agreement will provide a solid foundation for our auto industry to continue to build and expand,” said Oakville Mayor Rob Burton, Chair of Auto Mayors. “The deal supports open new markets and encourages increased investment in, and exports of, Canadian produced vehicles and parts.”

JEAN SIMARD, CEO OF ALUMINIUM ASSOCIATION OF CANADA

“Certainly disappointed because they didn’t agree on a solution on the 232 sanctions regarding aluminum and steel,” said Jean Simard, CEO of the Aluminium Association of Canada. “We find it very unfortunate, and to us it’s certainly very important in the coming days and weeks leading to the final signing of the agreement that they are able to resolve the situation.”

KEN NEUMANN, UNITED STEELWORKERS CANADIAN DIRECTOR

United Steelworkers Canadian director Ken Neumann said Canada “sold out” steel and aluminum workers by not getting rid of the current 25 percent steel tariffs and 10 percent aluminum tariffs.

“It appears Canadian steel and aluminum workers are among those being sacrificed in the concessions made by the Liberal government in this deal,” he said in a statement.

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