WNY and Southern Ontario Officials Worry About Tariffs

Trump/Trudeau conflict may have consequences in WNY

Mike Baggerman
June 13, 2018 - 8:00 pm

President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (AP Photo)


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - Officials in Western New York and Southern Ontario are deeply concerned about the tariffs on both the United States and Canada, implemented by President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Buffalo is a stone's throw away from Canada and some of the local economy is dependent on the relationship between the two countries. New York exports $15 billion worth of goods to Canada annually. 

"This is a relationship we treasure and something we want to grow," Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, President and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, said. "In late May, when President Trump imposed a 25 percent tariff on imported steel from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum, this creates great uncertainty in the market. It's happening at a time when we are trying to renegotiate NAFTA in a way that actually increases trade between countries. 

The tariffs from President Trump prompted Trudeau to announce his plans to impose tariffs while saying that Canada will not be pushed around. 

Gallagher-Cohen said 470,000 American jobs are risk and that Buffalo is at the center of these tariffs.

"This close and mutually beneficial relationship with our friends in Canada have resulted in prosperity and security on both sides of the border," Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said. "...The imposition of tariffs and commencement of a trade war between the United States and Canada will benefit neither country and will negatively impact the Western New York and Southern Ontario counties."

Poloncarz cited a Business Insider article which said that just under $1.7 billion in goods made in New York would be subject to the Canadian tariffs. 

One industry he said would be affected is the auto industry. 

"Steel that is produced in Canada is often shipped to our region to be manufactured into parts that are, in turn, shipped to Canada to be assembled in vehicles that are sold in the United States," Poloncarz added. 

Other local industries that could be affected include the yogurt industry, which is heavily produced in Genesee County, and other types of foods.

"Chocolates to maple syrup to soy sauce to ketchup to mustard," Poloncarz said. "If I was at Weber's mustard in Buffalo and you sold into Canada I'd be worried because your mustard is now going to cost more to somebody from Ontario to purchase. This tit-for-tat will not work. It only hurts people on both sides of the border."

City of Hamilton, Ontario Mayor Fred Eisenberger echoed the concern about the tariffs between the two countries.

"We're not at all in favor of beginning the process," Eisenberger said in a phone interview with WBEN. "Now that it's started, unfortunately, it's a downward spiral that causes retaliation. Hopefully we've worked towards ensuring we're not hurting ourselves in that process and we're continuing to reflect on the strong inter-relationship between trade." 

Eisenberger said that a major company like Integrated Supply Chain Network provides both countries key materials in the steel and manufacturing world.

"Hurt that supply chain and you hurt the entire industry that it's associated with."

Poloncarz called for both sides to de-escalate the rhetoric and for a strengthening of the partnership. Eisenberger said the focus for both countries should be China and not each other. 


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