ArcelorMittal Canada steelmaker not seeking government aid -CEO

HAMILTON, Ontario, March 13 (Reuters) – ArcelorMittal Dofasco’s chief executive said on Tuesday the company was not seeking Canadian government aid as the domestic steel industry faces uncertainty after U.S. President Donald Trump provided temporary tariff relief on steel imports.

Sean Donnelly, who heads Canada’s largest steel manufacturer, added in an interview that the Canadian government must put resources in place to ensure that cheap steel is not diverted to Canada after Trump decided last week to impose a 25 percent tariffs on steel imports.

Asked if his company would seek government aid, Donnelly replied: “No.”

Donnelly spoke to Reuters as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the steel city of Hamilton to reassure workers and meet with steel company CEOs, as part of his week-long tour to defend Canadian jobs. On Monday, Trudeau called Trump to stress the need to preserve the “mutually beneficial” cross-border supply chains.

Behind closed doors, Trudeau and industry representatives spoke about the issue of cheap steel entering Canada, but did not get into specifics, Canadian Steel Producers Association (CSPA) President Joseph Galimberti said.

The meeting was an “important affirmation” that the Canadian government’s months-long involvement in the steel trade issue would continue, Galimberti said.

“They have demonstrably had our back and have committed to having our back going forward,” he said.

While Canada and Mexico secured a reprieve, Trump has linked permanent exemption to the successful renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, making the industry nervous.

Canada is the biggest supplier of steel and aluminum to the United States. But relative to bigger industries such as agriculture and auto manufacturing, the Canadian steel sector accounted for only 22,000 direct jobs and represented 2 percent of exports last year.

ArcelorMittal employs about 10,300 people with seven units in the country, according to the CSPA.

The North American steel industry is heavily integrated, with raw materials, steel and parts crossing the U.S.-Canadian border several times before a finished product such as a vehicle or refrigerator is sold to consumers. About 65 percent of the Hamilton port’s tonnage is iron ore and coal used to make steel.

Hamilton, with a population of 700,000, houses Dofasco’s mill, coking and finishing operations at Stelco and a collection of smaller operations that directly employ about 10,000 people in the city. Hamilton is about 75 km (47 miles) southwest of Toronto.

(Reporting by Allison Martell; Additional reporting by Nicole Mordant in Vancouver; Writing by Denny Thomas; Editing by Grant McCool and Peter Cooney)

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