Trade War Escalates: BC Wants Ban On American Thermal Coal

A new front in the growing Canada-US trade war

The BC government is seeking a ban on US thermal coal. The move for a ban comes as the United States has slapped a tariff of over 20% on Canadian softwood lumber.

As noted by Bloomberg, the BC ban would apply to thermal coal only, excluding steel-making coal. Thermal coal is used in power plants.

The move could have a significant impact, as 6.2 million metric tons of American thermal coal went through the port of Vancouver in 2016. US President Donald Trump has also made the resurrection of the American coal industry one of his top talking points.

Politics the real issue behind call for a ban

The true reason for the ban is a political one. BC Premier Christy Clark is locked in a tight election race, and any edge can help. Taking a stand against Trump gives Clark a chance to show she is in command as the Premier, and that she is standing up for the interests of BC residents. It’s a shrewd political move with little downside at this point.

Clark has formally asked the federal government to impose a ban, and says she will do it herself if the feds doesn’t go along with it.

If the ban came into effect, analysts expect it to swiftly end up in court.

Spencer Fernando