Canada prime minister says steel exports not U.S. security threat

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday dismissed the idea that Canadian steel exports posed a national security threat to the United States and expressed confidence Canada would escape any punitive measures.

The U.S. administration of President Donald Trump is probing whether foreign-made steel imports pose a risk. The investigation is almost complete, officials say.

Trudeau told a public event in Toronto it was “just silly” to imagine Canadian exports were a threat to the United States, given how closely the two nations’ militaries and security forces cooperated.

“I made this point directly to the President, that Canada has no business being on a list of possible national security concerns and I am confident we’re moving in the right direction on that,” he said. The two leaders spoke last Friday.

Foreign steel companies are concerned the probe may be aimed at shoring up American producers and cutting out foreign competition.

Reuters reported in March that Canadian officials fear any U.S. action against the highly integrated steel industry could result in major job losses.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Bernard Orr