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Canada Bans Aluminium and Steel Imports from Russia

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On Friday, March 10, 2023, the Canadian government announced it is banning the import of certain aluminium and steel products from Russia. This comes as a sanction against Russia for its actions in Ukraine, and is coordinated with the US’s 200% tariff on aluminum products that came into effect the same day.

Background

The Special Economic Measures Act (S.C. 1992, c. 17; “SEMA”) allows the Canadian government to take “economic measures” against foreign states in cases of “gross and systematic” human rights violations, serious international crises resulting from a “grave breach of international peace and security”, or when Canada is called upon to do so by certain international organizations (SEMA 4). Because these measures can be made through a Regulation or an Order under the SEMA, it allows for faster action than would otherwise be possible through statute.

Canada has imposed a number of economic sanctions against Russia under the SEMA, through the Special Economic Measures (Russia) Regulations (SOR/2014-58; the “Regulations”), which first came into force in 2014.

Sanctions Imposed on Russia

Most recently, the Canadian government has taken a stance against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, calling it “a grave breach of international peace and security that has resulted in a serious international crisis”. Canada has responded in part by imposing numerous economic sanctions under the SEMA since February 2022.

Most recently, on March 10, 2023, the Regulations were amended (SOR/2023-46) to effect a prohibition on all imports of Russian aluminum products and many Russian iron and steel products. The Canadian government reports that this measure was taken to “[ensure] Putin cannot pay for his war by selling aluminum and steel in Canada”.

The full list of prohibited products is listed in Schedule 11 of the Regulations.

Canada imported $45 million of aluminum and $213 million of steel products from Russia in 2021 – this new import prohibition could mean supply chain changes for certain Canadian importers.

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