CMMA joins opposition to Canadian tariffs

OAKVILLE, Ontario – The Canadian Marine Manufacturers Association will oppose tariffs proposed by the Canadian government that would apply a 100-percent tax to imported products from the U.S., including pleasure vessels such as yachts, sailboats, motorboats, inflatables and canoes, CMMA said in a press release late yesterday.

The tariffs – which the Canadian government proposed Nov. 23 – were created in response to the Byrd Amendment, a law originally passed in 2000 to help the U.S. steel industry. The amendment allows funds collected from antidumping fines and countervailing duties to be given to U.S. firms that petition for tax relief.

The Byrd Amendment was challenged by a number of countries, including Canada, at the World Trade Organization, which subsequently ruled the Byrd Amendment violates international trade laws. The ruling provides each of the WTO countries involved with the right to implement a tariff on selected U.S. manufactured products.

“This tariff would be completely devastating to the Canadian boating industry,” said Sandy Currie, CMMA executive director.

“CMMA does not want to see this tariff applied to the recreational boating industry in Canada and will be working with its members and the other trade associations to convince the government of the negative impact it would have on the Canadian boating industry,” the organization wrote.

CMMA would be appealing to the Canadian government to have Chapter 89.03, “yachts and other vessels for pleasure or sports; rowing boats and canoes” removed from the list of products for the proposed tariffs.

The association said it will be working with the National Marine Manufacturers Association on the issue. CMMA also asked its members and others who have a stake in Canada’s boating industry to contact their elected officials and “notify them of the tremendous stress and devastating impact the imposition of this tariff would have on your business.”

Tariffs worry U.S. builders

The concerns of the Canadian boating industry are shared by U.S. boat builders. In an online story published yesterday by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, several U.S. builders and industry officials said the tariffs would all but eliminate the opportunity for U.S. companies to sell their boats in Canada.

"It would double the price of all American boats sold over the border, eliminating our competitiveness in the Canadian market,” NMMA President Thom Dammrich told the newspaper. “This could affect a lot of boat builders.”

Genmar President Irwin Jacobs told the Journal Sentinel that while Canada isn't a huge market for most boat builders, it's not one that is taken lightly either.

"You would never be able to survive in the boat business in Canada," should 100-percent tariffs be applied to American boats, Jacobs said.

Jacobs told the newspaper that he doubts Canada will follow through with threats to apply high tariffs on American-made boats, but agrees with the Canadian government that the U.S. should drop the amendment. He believes trade sanctions, and the retaliation that comes from them, are a no-win situation for everybody.

"The Byrd amendment is ridiculous and should have been thrown out when it was brought up in the first place," Jacobs said.

The Canadian government has set a Dec. 20 deadline for accepting comments from its citizens and companies about the proposed tariffs.

Dammrich said NMMA is calling for an immediate repeal of the Byrd amendment to prevent Canada and other WTO countries from imposing tariffs on the U.S. boating industry.

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