Modified: September 7, 2018 11:54am
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz today addressed attendees at the Hamilton Steel Summit, hosted by the City of Hamilton (Ont.) to address current challenges facing the steel industry. Open to the public, the event included a panel discussion with steel industry representatives and community stakeholders along with a public comment period. In his remarks to the assembly Poloncarz noted the long-standing and mutually beneficial relationship Erie County enjoys with our Canadian neighbors and also warned of the economic danger posed by the recent imposition of tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum.
Comments of Erie County (NY) Executive Mark C. Poloncarz
as prepared for delivery at the Hamilton Steel Summit
September 7, 2018
Thank you. It is my pleasure to join you today to offer my perspective as the leader of Erie County, New York, a community of approximately 1 million people, and as the son of a steelworker. You see my father worked 37 years for Bethlehem Steel in Lackawanna, New York.
The plant was once one of the largest steelmaking facilities in the world, employing 22,000 when I was born. When I was in high school the vast majority of the plant closed, decimating the economy of Buffalo, and especially my hometown of Lackawanna.
Today Bethlehem Steel no longer exists, and only a shell of the original steelmaking facility remains. The city of Lackawanna is finally turning the corner from the economic tsunami that nearly destroyed it more than 30 years ago. From my experience that is a direction you never want to go.
Erie County has greatly benefited from having a close relationship to Canada, with cross-border economic activity proving to be an integral reason for our recent success. This close and mutually beneficial relationship with our Canadian neighbors has resulted in prosperity and security on both sides of the border.
Unfortunately that prosperity has been put at risk with the recent imposition of tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum products by President Donald Trump and corresponding tariffs announced by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on many U.S. made products.
These tariffs worried me so that in June I joined Dottie Gallagher of our chamber of commerce and Keanin Loomis of your chamber in Buffalo to decry the imposition of tariffs by both nations.
As I predicted in June, the imposition of tariffs and the commencement of a trade war between the United States and Canada did not benefit either country and has negatively impacted the Western New York and Southern Ontario economies.
For example, Business Insider Magazine estimated that 1 Billion 166 Million dollars of goods produced in New York State are now subject to the tariffs announced by the Trudeau Administration, and we all know that US tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum products have negatively affected your steel industry, and our related auto industry.
Steel produced in Hamilton is shipped to western New York to be manufactured into car body parts that are in turn shipped back to Canada for assembly in vehicles sold in the United States. And the auto industry is just one example. Other WNY companies that rely on steel made in Hamilton have been similarly negatively affected.
The economies of both regions are built upon the free flow of goods across our borders. The imposition of steel tariffs by the Trump administration has hurt both economies.
These tariffs are not solving anything but are creating problems that did not exist before. The economies of both regions are permanently linked and no one wins by engaging in a trade war; no one.
We in western New York stand with you our Canadian neighbors in support of the ending of this unnecessary and inevitably fruitless trade war between two great peoples.
Our leaders in Washington and Ottawa must work together to strengthen our strong bonds, not weaken them, so that we can continue to benefit from the shared prosperity of a united market between Canada and the United States of America.
# # #