Quebec’s McInnis Cement plant subsidiary threatens US cement industry


Updated Thu, 31 Jul 2014 16:29:01 GMT

USA/Canada: US Senator Sherrod Brown has urged the Obama Administration to protect the cement industry in Paulding County, Ohio and the thousands of local jobs that it supports.

In a letter to United States Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman, Brown called for the administration to crack down on Canada's attempt to 'illegally' subsidise the McInnis Cement plant in Quebec, which would specifically target the US market, hurting the ability of local manufacturers to compete. US cement companies would be affected, he claims, including Lafarge North America, which has a plant in Paulding County.

"Paulding County workers can compete with anyone when given a level playing field," said Brown. "But if countries like Canada illegally subsidise their industries and target the US market, it gives their products an unfair advantage. I urge the administration to investigate the nearly US$500m subsidy package proposed for the Quebec plant, which will directly compete with Lafarge North America's facility in Paulding. Actions must be taken in order to protect Paulding jobs and the economy of north-west Ohio."

The Canadian federal government and Quebec are seeking to offer almost US$500m to McInnis Cement to help its start-up in Port-Daniel-Gascons, Quebec. It is claimed that the size and nature of these subsidies could violate Canada's World Trade Organisation (WTO) obligations and give its cement industry an unfair advantage in the US market.

"Lafarge North America appreciates the inquiry to the United States Trade Representative to address a serious threat to US cement producers and their workers," said John Stull, president and CEO of Lafarge North America. "Given the excess cement capacity in Quebec, the McInnis Cement plant makes no economic sense. Lafarge believes that the plant would not be built without enormous support from the federal and provincial government. Lafarge joins Senator Brown in urging the US government to engage with the Canadian government regarding the provision of subsidies that appear to be prohibited by WTO rules and threaten material harm to the US cement industry."