Southern Ontario pushes back against China's steel dumping

Atlas Tube CEO fears long-term tariffs will force production shift to U.S.

Southern Ontario's manufacturing sector wants the federal government to help steel producers remain competitive in an international market that they say is unfairly dominated by shoddy practices in China. 

Members of the Windsor-Essex Chamber of Commerce teamed up last year with counterparts in Hamilton and Sault Ste. Marie to push the government to stand up to "steel dumping" by China. 

Members of the three Chambers of Commerce say China does not adhere to the same environmental standards and basic labour laws as Canadian companies.

After eight months of lobbying, the group presented its case before members of the House of Commons standing committee on international trade in Ottawa on Tuesday. 

Without a level playing field, Canada can't compete internationally in the steel industry, explained Matt Marchand, president and CEO of the Windsor-Essex Chamber of Commerce.

"The instability of the steel market, in large part due to China's steel dumping and non-market economy, has led to the sharp decline in the ability of our steel industry to compete globally, costing middle-class jobs," he said.  

'Push back on China'

The owner of Atlas Tube, a steel tube manufacturing company in Harrow, wants action taken against China to stop that country's dumping of cheap steel on the market.

Barry Zekelman says China is dumping steel on the global market at a drastically reduced cost, compared to North American steel, by ignoring environmental protection measures.

"They're not working on the same playing field that any of us are," he told CBC News.

Zekelman echoed the Chamber, saying shoddy practices in China threaten the steel industry in Canada and the thousands of jobs that go with it.

"All the countries that are being hurt by China have to push back on China and restrict their shipments of steel and steel-related products into those countries," he said.